The Gila Woodpecker is a native Arizona woodpecker, frequently spotted in many locations including in the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson.
Medium in size, the Gila Woodpecker has black and white speckles on the back, with a gray to buff colored neck and underside. They wear a red cap on their head.
This bird is always busy making wholes in sahuaro cactus, and if this has you concerned they are hurting your sahuaro, there is nothing to fear. Sahuaros and woodpeckers have lived together harmoniously forever. It is interesting to note that the woodpecker makes the hole, and then waits for the sahuaro to seal over the wound before building a nest. After they are through nesting, other birds and mammals often move in, including owls, reptiles and bats.
The male Gila Woodpecker looks for food on the main trunk of the sahuaro, while the female tends to stay closer to the nesting site.
Reference: The Nature of Madera Canyon by Douglas W. Moore, Friends of Madera, 1999