News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters Country birds

A familiar resident of our ponderosa pine forests is the white-headed woodpecker (Picoides albolarvatus). Feeding on insects, cone seeds, and larva from the thick bark of ponderosa pines, they also nest in older snags of pines.

After excavating the nest cavity, two to nine white eggs are laid and the parents share brooding duties for approximately 14 days, and then the chicks are fed by both parents for another 26 days in the nest. At least some of the pairs remain together for the winter. White-headed woodpeckers are one of the most poorly studied birds of the woodpecker family.

American ornithologist John Cassin first described the white-headed woodpecker in 1850. Cassin collected some 43,000 various bird skins which were cured in arsenic, and he died from arsenic poisoning.

A group of woodpeckers are referred to as a “drumming,” “gatling,” or “decent.”

To view more images of the white-headed woodpecker, visit


Reader Comments(0)