• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
Feel the intensity, not your equipment. Maximum image quality. Minimum weight. The new ZEISS SFL, up to 30% less weight than comparable competitors.

Ladder-backed or Gila Woodpecker Nevada (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
On Nov. 18, 2021 I was at a birding hotspot just north of Las Vegas (Desert NWR Corn Creek, Nevada) where I took a couple of photos of a woodpecker before it flew away. It was quite far away so the photos are pretty grainy and I didn't get an ideal head shot. It's back looks like a Ladder-backed Woodpecker but it's head doesn't appear to have the typical markings I associate with a ladder-backed. Actually, the absence of markings on it's head reminds me of a Gila Woodpecker but they are not found this far north in Nevada. Perhaps someone can help me with this puzzle? Any insight would be appreciated. Kathy


  • Woodpecker J73A9023.jpg
    Woodpecker J73A9023.jpg
    941 KB · Views: 40
  • Woodpecker J73A9025.jpg
    Woodpecker J73A9025.jpg
    1,005.6 KB · Views: 42


Well-known member
Tail-pattern and head-pattern are wrong for ladder-backed woodpecker. Gila woodpecker seems to be correct - despite being c. 90 mile out of range.

Jos Stratford

Eastern Exile
Even though the flanks are mostly hidden, shouldn't the sapsucker show more barring on the flanks? This appears to have only minor barring at the rear, not further forward. Would seem closer match to Gila.


Well-known member
I really appreciate all of these suggestions! As Butty mentioned, the Gila Woodpecker is 90 miles out of range and I certainly didn't get a good enough photo to support this rare citing. Williamson's Sapsucker are reported for this region in September and nearby in October. I agree the flanks should have more barring but perhaps it's just my poor photos? I'm thinking of reporting it as a female Williamson's Sapsucker although the reviewers for ebird may simply tell me to call it either a "Woodpecker Sp" or a "Sapsucker Sp". When I took these photos I thought it was a Flicker until I got home to really look. Too bad, I would have tried much harder. Kathy


Well-known member
I think this looks much better for Gila Woodpecker as there are a few things that look off for Williamson's Sapsucker (WISA). First, the lack of barring on the flanks, as already mentioned. Second, the patterning of the white and black in the wings with roughly equal amounts black/white whereas on WISA there tends to be more black with the white looking more like thinner wavy "stripes". The tail also appears to have more extensive white then I am seeing on most pics (among a selection of ~20-30 pics of females) on eBird of WISA.

Users who are viewing this thread