National Geographic : 1933 Apr
NORTH AMERICAN WOODPECKERS TEXAS WOODPECKER (Dryobates scalaris symplectus) This particular form of the ladder backed woodpecker is found in southeast ern Colorado, central and western Texas, and adjacent Mexico. Throughout a large portion of Texas it is by far the most abundant woodpecker, and, like the downy of the Northeastern States, is the best-known of its family in the region it chiefly inhabits. It frequents the post-oak and chaparral country, and where trees are scarce it perches in bushes and feeds about the cacti. It comes into the towns and into parks or yards with trees, there to be seen dili gently at work gathering its food. Living, as it does, mainly in regions where large trees are absent, one need not be surprised to find its nest within a few feet of the ground. The hole is often excavated under the curve of a limb on an oak or mesquite tree. Fifteen races of this species are known, of which three others occur in the United States and Baja California. RED-COCKADED WOODPECKER (Dryobates borealis) This bird is a resident in the yellow-pine country of the South Atlantic and Gulf States, and northward to southeastern Vir ginia, Tennessee, and southern Missouri. The large white cheek patch, untrav ersed by any suggestion of a black stripe, at once identifies it as not being a downy or a hairy woodpecker, both more or less common in the red-cockaded's range. This is a bird of the open pine woods, and is rarely seen except among pine trees and seldom alone. All through the winter months I have found them, sometimes four or five, or even six, feeding together. When feeding they call frequently, in a sharp and strident voice that has a very noticeable carrying power. Often they are seen in the tops of the tallest long-leaf pines, industriously searching for food on the limbs or the terminal twigs. When thus occupied they do not mind hanging head downward if the exigencies of the moment require such a position. The nest is made in a large living pine tree, the heart of which is more or less decayed. The white eggs range in num ber from three to five. NUTTALL'S WOODPECKER (Dryobates nuttalli) Nuttall's woodpecker is found from southern Oregon to Baja California, but occurs only west of the southern Cascades and the Sierra Nevadas. It is about the size of the Texas woodpecker and, except for the little black area on the forepart of the head and the somewhat lighter breast, varies little in appearance from that bird. It is a noisy, naturally suspicious bird and is very likely to announce its presence upon seeing a visitor approaching the tree which it occupies. In an effort to refer descriptively to its notes, one Nature stu dent mentions the "rattling staccato cry." This woodpecker nests in dead or in living trees of many varieties, and digs a hole from 3 to 60 feet above the ground. The male helps incubate the four to six white eggs, and is very solicitous about them and the young, which appear after a two weeks' period of incubation. Nut tall's woodpecker is usually found in openly wooded areas or groves, often where trees are of small size. ARIZONA WOODPECKER (Dryobates arisonac arizsoae) The Arizona woodpecker ranges through out the mountains of southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico and across the Mexican border in suitable mountain regions as far south as Durango. It is a bird of the mountains, being found in foothill areas in rocky canyons or again in more open localities in groves or regions of scattered trees. It is partic ularly partial to oaks. In summer it is widely spread, but on the approach of win ter it leaves the higher altitudes for lower levels. Less common than most species of the family, its habits are not so well known. It is quiet and inconspicuous, climbing over tree trunks like other small wood peckers in its search for food. Though it eats many insects, it can thrive well on a diet composed largely of acorns. Occasionally these birds are found in bands, but more often are encountered alone and are shy and retiring. The nests are placed in holes cut in dead trunks or branches and the white eggs usually number three or four in a set. An allied race is found in southwestern Mexico.