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Sedona Birding: Ladder-Backed Woodpecker at Bell Rock Pathway

There it was. A loud, distinctive, and short “peek” directly overhead. Then another and then several in a row: what birders refer to as the “rattle call.” The glare of the afternoon sun made it a little difficult to look up in the direction of the sound, but after a bit of repositioning, there he was — busy working at a small hole in the skeleton of what appeared to be a pinyon pine.

Sedona, AZ: There it was. A loud, distinctive, and short “peek” directly overhead. Then another and then several in a row: what birders refer to as the “rattle call.” The glare of the afternoon sun made it a little difficult to look up in the direction of the sound, but after a bit of repositioning, there he was — busy working at a small hole in the skeleton of what appeared to be a pinyon pine.

The distinctive red crown and black and white coloration resembling the rungs of a ladder aided in the identification. It was the ladder-backed woodpecker, a small bird generally six to seven inches in length from bill to tail feathers, but one that packs a lot of wallop. The bill on this bird drills sizeable holes into the trunks of trees for both foraging and nesting purposes.

Pinyon pine, juniper, and an otherwise scrubby terrain in the Bell Rock Pathway and Courthouse Butte Loop hiking area provide a perfect habitat for this little guy. Found throughout the Southwest and Mexico, the ladder-backed woodpecker is a common, permanent resident in Sedona.

Below: Going, going, gone. This ladder-backed woodpecker entertained a small group of hikers returning to the Bell Rock Vista parking lot before disappearing into the trunk of the pinyon pine.

Going... Going... Gone!

Photos by Terree L. Duncan.

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