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The Ivory Bill·Birds·Cavity Makers

Golden-fronted Woodpeckers, Melanerpes aurifrons

Golden-fronted woodpeckers perched on a tree stump

Golden-fronted Woodpeckers, Melanerpes aurifrons

Golden-fronted Woodpeckers breed in open woodlands and savannas in the southern United States, Mexico, and Central America from late March to early July. They are commonly found in riparian woodlands, scrublands, and urban areas, which are characterized by a mix of large trees and open spaces where insects and fruits are abundant during the breeding season.

They forage in trees, shrubs, and on the ground for ants, beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and spiders. They may also feed on fruits such as berries, cactus fruits, and nuts.

Golden-fronted Woodpeckers have a distinctive foraging behavior that includes gleaning insects from bark, probing into wood crevices, and catching insects in flight. Their strong bills and sticky tongues are well adapted for extracting insects from tight spaces and for consuming a variety of fruits.

Courtship involves vocalizations, drumming, and display flights. Males often perform fluttering flight displays and call from prominent perches to attract females. Pair bonding includes mutual preening and feeding.

Both males and females chip out cavities in dead or decaying trees, often in mesquite, pecan, or oak trees. These cavities are typically located between 2 to 15 meters above the ground, depending on the tree’s structure and location. They prefer trees in open woodlands or near edges of forests. The cavity is lined with wood chips from the excavation process.

Although rare, Golden-fronted Woodpeckers are occasionally reported to have nested in birdhouses. See Golden-fronted Woodpecker Birdhouse Plans

Egg laying occurs in mid to late spring, with the female laying 4 to 7 white eggs. Incubation lasts about 12 to 14 days and is shared by both parents. Upon hatching, both parents feed the chicks a diet of insects and fruits.

Chicks learn to forage under the supervision of adults, who guide them in finding food and using their foraging techniques. As they grow, chicks practice drilling and pecking but remain vulnerable to predators and environmental factors.

Chick fledging occurs about 25 to 28 days after hatching. Continued adult guidance is essential as fledglings refine their foraging skills. Their diet gradually includes a broader range of insects and fruits.

Golden-fronted Woodpeckers are generally non-migratory, but some northern populations may move southward in winter. They tend to stay within their breeding range year-round. Wintering habitats include the same open woodlands, scrublands, and urban areas as during the breeding season.