15 Ladder Backed Woodpecker Facts You’ll Never Forget

Explore more Ladder-backed woodpecker facts.

Most people have heard and seen the woodpeckers drumming while enjoying a day out in the woods. Besides being fun to watch them perform their activity, they play an essential role in the ecosystem that helps many songbirds and other birds of prey.

But did you notice that there are many species of woodpeckers? Prevalent in the semi-desert regions of North America, the Ladder-backed woodpecker, Dryobates scalaris, is similar to the more abundantly distributed Downy woodpecker. This small and agile woodpecker is effortlessly spotted, but it might not be easy to point them out as they look similar to other species of the Picidae bird family.

The Picidae bird family has more than 250 species of woodpeckers like flame backs, wrynecks, flickers, and piculets. Grasping more about the Dryobates scalaris can help bird lovers identify and understand these birds' exceptional characteristics. Discover the detailed facts about the Dryobates scalaris.

Also, don't miss out on the fun facts about birds of paradise and barn owls, and other bird profiles of all your favorite species.

Ladder Backed Woodpecker

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Berries, fruit, insects, beetles, true bugs, ants, larvae, caterpillars

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

0.7-1.7 oz (20-48 g)

How long are they?

6.5-7.5 in (16.5-19 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Black, white

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Cooper's hawks, Falcons, Owls, Snakes

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Tropical rainforest, thorn forests, deserts


North America





Scientific Name

Dryobates scalaris





Ladder Backed Woodpecker Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Ladder Backed Woodpecker?

The Ladder-backed Woodpecker (Dryobates scalaris) is a small North American woodpecker with a firm tail and acrobatic feet. They can hop around upward and downward around the tree trunks and branches and often twists their body while jumping. The Dryobates scalaris feed on any plant.

What class of animal does a Ladder Backed Woodpecker belong to?

The Ladder-backed woodpeckers are North American birds. It belongs to the class Aves and family Picidae.

How many Ladder Backed Woodpeckers are there in the world?

The exact number of the Dryobates scalaris is unknown since many woodpecker species exist. According to International Ornithological Congress, around 236 species of woodpeckers are under the family Picidae.

Where does a Ladder Backed Woodpecker live?

The Dryobates scalaris love to live in the woodlands. They are North American birds, and their original range is listed as Texas, New Mexico, and Nicaragua. This bird species range stretches from southern Nevada and southeastern California to southern Arizona. Its range stretches to the far south of the Yucatan Peninsula from Mexico. A small population of the Dryobates scalaris also live in Central America; its range extends as far as Belize, Nicaragua, Honduras, Southern US, and Colorado.

What is a Ladder Backed Woodpecker's habitat?

The Dryobates scalaris habitat preference includes both dry climates and bushy deserts. They are often found in the semi-arid regions in the creeks and riparian desert areas. Common in areas covered with small plant growth and shrubs and bushes.

This North American bird lives well off in the thorn forests and deserts with shrubs and bushes. Deserts accompanied by Joshua trees and agave trees in southern California are home to these unique small birds. While in Arizona, this species of birds make a home in the deserts comprising acacia, mesquite, yucca, jumping cholla, paloverde, walking stick cactus, catclaw, and spiny hackberry.

Who do Ladder Backed Woodpeckers live with?

The Dryobates scalaris live alone or in pairs. They are also found to live in small family groups till the juvenile birds become matured.

Breeding pairs are formed during the winter season. Conflicting behavior has been found between the males. These often include turning, bobbing, pointing the bill at the rivals upward or directly, swinging their head, moth fight with the opponents in which the wings are held downwards or open for a few seconds, and flickering or spreading their wings.

How long does a Ladder Backed Woodpecker live?

The Dryobates scalaris bird species are expected to live for 4-12 years.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season of the woodpeckers usually varies according to season, their incubation period, and the number of eggs laid. The Dryobates scalaris reproduce by forming breeding pairs. The mating season starts before winter until the end of the spring season.

The Dryobates scalaris build their nest in the holes excavated from the trunks of the trees. In the semi-arid regions, they built their nest in a giant cactus. The female can lay two to seven eggs. They are shelled and plain white. Both the sexes are responsible for incubating the eggs.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the Dryobates scalaris is Least Concern.

Ladder Backed Woodpecker Fun Facts

What does Ladder Backed Woodpecker look like?

The Dryobates scalaris are small woodpeckers with a small body, short neck, square head, and a firm tail responsible for leaning and supporting. The bill small and straight but is chisel-like to excavate trunks of the trees to built nests. Its size is 6.5-7.5 in (16.5-19 cm) long.

The Dryobates scalaris woodpeckers are mainly black and white. The backside of the body is black with white stripes that look like the rungs of a ladder. The underpart is entirely white, freckled with black. The face is separated by fine black lines that extend from the beak and eyes to the neck. The males have red crowns, while the females have black crowns.

Find out more about the Ladder-backed Woodpecker.

How cute are they?

The Ladder-backed woodpeckers are cute little birds. As the name suggests, this bird species' backside is black with white stripes that give the appearance of a ladder. The underside is white spotted with black.

How do they communicate?

Surprisingly, woodpeckers do not have a vocal song, although you can hear them making sounds like chirping, chattering, and giving alarm calls. For more detailed communication, they drum on objects such as logs, stumps, hollow trees, rain gutters, trash cans, utility poles, chimneys, metal roofing, or any other objects that make a sound. The woodpeckers mostly drum to attract mates and for establishing their territory. Also, when both the sexes communicate with each other, they will drum.

How big is a Ladder Backed Woodpecker?

The Dryobates scalaris is 6.5-7.5 in (16.5-19 cm) long. The Ladder-backed Woodpecker is two times bigger than the Lesser-spotted woodpecker.

How fast can a Ladder Backed Woodpecker fly?

The Dryobates scalaris flies swiftly at an average height. Their exact flying speed is not recorded.

What is the average weight of a Ladder Backed Woodpecker?

The Dryobates scalaris weighs around 0.7-1.7 oz (21-48 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Females are known as female Ladder-blacked woodpeckers, and the males are known as male Ladder-backed woodpeckers.

What would you call a baby Ladder Backed Woodpecker?

The baby Dryobates scalaris is known as a chick.

What do they eat?

The Dryobates scalaris feeds on a wide range of insects like beetles and their larvae, ants, true bugs, and caterpillars. It also feeds on berries and fruits, including the cactus fruit.

What is the average size of a Ladder Backed Woodpecker?

The average size of the Dryobates scalaris is 7.5 in (19 cm).

How do you identify a male and female Ladder Backed Woodpecker?

The male Dryobates scalaris have a red crown on the top of the head and a black line starting from the eye and beak till the neck. Although the females look quite the same, they lack the red crown; instead, the females have a black crown and have more white on the face than the black line.

Did you know...

The Dryobates scalaris toes are zygodactylous, which means that the outer toes can revolve backward and forward, similar to that of the perching birds.

The Dryobates scalaris is known to occasionally mate or hybridize with their closest relative, the Nuttall's woodpecker.

What sound does a Ladder Backed Woodpecker make?

The Dryobates scalaris have a single sharp call note known as 'peek' or 'pik'. It also has a harsh chirping and clattering call that come down with a pitch at the end. The drumming sound is loud and fast. It lasts for one to two seconds with each cry.

How do I identify a Ladder Backed Woodpecker?

The Ladder-backed woodpeckers can be distinguished from their black and white stripes on the back, which look like rungs on the ladder. More patterns of black and white are found on the wings. The underpart is white and flecked with black. The face is separated by black lines that start from the eyes and beak till the neck. The males have a red crown on their heads, and the females have a black crown.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds, from our secretary bird facts and great green macaw fun facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable ladder backed woodpecker coloring pages.



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