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Nuttall's woodpecker        Images © Mark A. Chappell

These little 'ladder-backed' woodpeckers are California specialties.   Their sharp calls are characteristic of riparian woodlands or open forest.  Nuttall's woodpeckers are very similar to ladderbacked woodpeckers, but have more black on the face and the black facial markings tend to merge with the dark back, pure white breasts, narrower white bars on the back and an unbarred upper back and 'shoulders', and in adult males the red crown extends rearwards from behind the eyes (male ladderbacks have red crowns from above the eyes backwards).   Females (center) lack red crowns, and oddly, young birds -- like the one in the nest hole -- have red on the forehead.   All these Nuttall's were photographed in California: at Santee Lakes Park near San Diego, Palm Desert, Escondido, and Riverside.  The nest (in Two Trees Canyon in Riverside) was less than a meter below an active red-shafted flicker nest.

  • Canon 10D, 1D Mk. II, 1D3, 1D4, 7D2, or 5D4; 500 mm f4 IS lens + 1.4X converter (center and right images above: both 1.4X and 2X converters combined) or 800 mm IS lens plus 1.4X converter, fill-in flash (2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2011-2018)