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Gila Woodpecker

Melanerpes uropygialis

The Gila Woodpecker is most abundant on the desert mesas of southern Arizona’s Sonoran desert, but ranges as year-round residents into Mexico’s west coast and Baja California. There are reports showing that the population has dropped by half from 1966 to 2014. Habitat losses due to human development and nesting competition from European Starlings are believed to be the main causes of the decline.

When Gila Woodpeckers excavate their nest holes in a saguaro cactus, they will wait at least two months, or even one year before occupying it. The cactus produces a sticky sap to seal the wound, and when the sap dries, it forms a hardened shell called a “boot.”

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