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Photo taken in Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, Morongo Valley, San Bernardino County, California, USA
The Ladder-backed Woodpecker is a small woodpecker about 16.5 to 19 cm (6Ā½ to 7Ā½ inches) in length. It is primarily colored black and white, with a barred pattern on its back and wings resembling the rungs of a ladder. Its rump is speckled with black, as are its cream-colored underparts on the breast and flanks. Southern populations have duskier buff breasts and distinctly smaller bills. Adult males have a red crown patch that is smaller in immatures and lacking in adult females. The Ladder-backed Woodpecker is very similar in appearance to Nuttall's Woodpecker, but has much less black on its head and upper back, and the range of the two species only intersects a minimal amount in southern California and northern Baja California. Hybrids are known.
The species can be found year-round over the south-western United States (north to extreme southern Nevada and extreme southeastern Colorado), most of Mexico, and locally in Central America as far south as Nicaragua.
The Ladder-backed Woodpecker is fairly common in dry brushy areas and thickets and has a rather large range.
Ladder-backed Woodpeckers nest in cavities excavated from tree trunks, or in more arid environments a large cactus will do. The female lays between 2 and 7 eggs, which are plain white. The eggs are incubated by both sexes, but the nesting period and other details are unknown.
Like most other woodpeckers the Ladder-backed Woodpecker bores into tree-trunks with its chisel-like bill to hunt for insects and their larva, but it also feeds on fruit produced by cacti.