Ladder-backed Woodpeckers


You, my dear readers, are giving me some large shoes to fill.  Melissa (her blog) says I am an “awesome dude”.  Cindy (her blog) says I have a “magnetic personality”.  My friend Ross McSwain (his website) says “Bob, you are the best bird photographer that I have ever come across”.  Of course, he is a personal friend of mine and he better danged well say that. 🙂

Anyway, after all those fine words, I find it difficult to keep coming up with subjects to write about.  Each day, I stumble through my images and try to find some that I haven’t shown you.  Or a story that I haven’t told you.  On that subject I could actually think of many stories, but I have to decide which ones are fit for print.

So, today, I came across these photos of the Ladder-backed Woodpecker (Picoides scalaris).  They were taken on various occasions during my travels across west Texas and here at San Angelo State Park.  At one time, pre-birding days, I thought any woodpecker with a red head was a Red-headed Woodpecker.  Not so.  The Ladder-backed Woodpecker has a red head, but so has the Red-bellied Woodpecker, Acorn Woodpecker, Red-naped Sapsucker and the Red-breasted Sapsucker.  Some others have litle red spots but we won’t count them.

I tossed in the names of the sapsuckers, because they look like woodpeckers.  So the mystery deepens even more.  How about this?  The Red-bellied Woodpecker doesn’t have a red belly.  Not that you would notice.  I think there is a pink tinge in the lower abdominal area.

Now if you look at the “ladder back”, you can also see the same patterns on the Gila Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, and lest we forget, those sapsuckers.  So, IDing the woodpecker species can get a bit tricky.  So I guess if I can ID them correctly, that make me an “awesome dude.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

So there you have it.  I am sure that someone will tell me about other distinctive differences that I missed, but this is my story and I am sticking with it. 🙂

Click on any image to see an enlargement.  Have a great time enjoying them.

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29 thoughts on “Ladder-backed Woodpeckers

  1. You are great, Bob! 🙂 And i agree, those Sapsuckers do look like Woodpeckers.And another post with some wonderful photos too. 🙂

    Ohhh, I have a request. My favorite little birdie around here, because he is colorful and proud and has such the personality, rooting around in the leaves/litter. The Rufous-sided Towhee. 🙂 If you have any photos, I’d love to see them.

  2. Dearest Awesome Dude (:

    Thanks for the mention! I appreciate your shout out.

    I love these pictures of the ladder back. I think they’re a little cuter than “our” Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers up here… probably the polka dots.

  3. Hi Bob,

    I had a HUGE woodpecker on my land one time. The epitome of “Woody Woodpecker” but so big it was as 2 feet, maybe. Kinda scary looking, and its head kind of tilted to one side.

    What kind of woodpecker was that? It was as tall as a turkey vulture.

  4. I agree..they should be called sap sucking wood peckers..beautiful shots of these very complicated marked birds..don’t try to count the spots…thanks again for sharing with all of us..Love FishearMe..are you really a Funky Old Dude? lol

  5. Sapsuckers aren’t woodpeckers? Oh dear, I am confused. So, perhaps your next post will help us to sort it all out?

    The Ladder-backed is very beautiful in the second ‘pose.’ Thanks for sharing with us. 🙂
    ~ Lynda

    • Yeah, actually the Sapsuckers are really woodpeckers, but they ain’t called woodpeckers. I should have clarified that. But I don’t know why they don’t call them Sap-sucking Woodpeckers. How about that? 🙂

      Thanks Lynda, for the great comment.

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