Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

White-headed Woodpecker (Leuconotopicus albolarvatus)


French: Pic à tête blanche German: Weißkopfspecht Spanish: Pico cabeciblanco

Leuconerpes albolarvatus


, 1850,

Oregon Canyon, California, USA


Closest to L. villosus, L. stricklandi (with L. arizonae) and L. borealis, and all previously placed in Picoides. Races rather poorly differentiated, with variation possibly clinal. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. a. albolarvatus (Cassin, 1850) – SC British Columbia S, discontinuously in mountains, to Washington, W Idaho, Oregon, California (S in Coast Ranges to NW Colusa, and along Sierra Nevada in E), and extreme W Nevada.
  • L. a. gravirostris (Grinnell, 1902) – SW California (mountains around Los Angeles and San Diego).
  • Descriptive notes

    24 cm; 50–79 g, mostly 52–68 g. Male has white forehead, crown, lores, side of head, and chin to upper breast, usually faint buff tinge on forehead, greyish tinge... read more


    Call “peek-it” or “pee-dink”, often trisyllabic; also “kit-kit-kit-... read more


    Tall, open mixed coniferous forest in mountains, particularly with ponderosa pine (Pinus... read more

    Food and feeding

    Animal food mostly insects and their larvae, especially ants, beetles, also scale insects (Homoptera); pine seeds regularly taken from... read more


    May–Jul; from Apr in S. Flutter-aerial display by male during courtship. Nest excavated by both partners, duration 3–4 weeks,... read more


    Some downslope movement and wandering after breeding season. Recorded outside normal range on... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Uncommon to rare in N of range; fairly common to common elsewhere. Occurs in low densities: estimates include 0·5 birds/40·5 ha in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Winkler, H. & Christie, D.A. (2019). White-headed Woodpecker (Leuconotopicus albolarvatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 7 December 2019).