White-headed Woodpecker
(Picoides albolarvatus)


Picture of bird
© USFWS - License
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The White-headed Woodpecker is a rare resident of ponderosa pine forests in southern British Columbia. The population in Canada is too small to monitor by the major bird surveys. Incidental sightings reported annually suggest that there has been a decrease in numbers since 1970 and only a small, but relatively stable, number of individuals exist today. This led the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada to designate the White-headed Woodpecker as Endangered in 2000; it was re-assessed as such in 2010 (COSEWIC). This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Listing of the main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
COSEWIC (Canada)Endangered2010 
SARA (Canada)Endangered2003 
IUCN (Global)Least Concern2012 
Partners in Flight (North America)Stewardship List, Watch List Species2012 
Wild Species (Canada)At Risk2010 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic areaStatusReliability
CanadaLarge DecreaseLow

Population estimate

Canada< 500 adults

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence


Responsibility for conservation of world population

CanadaVery Low

Conservation and management

White-headed Woodpeckers rely on the seeds of ponderosa pine as a primary food source from fall through spring (Garrett et al. 1996). They prefer open, park-like stands of ponderosa pine, since those habitats produce high cone crops and have a high density of snags suitable for nest cavities. However, most of these habitats have been converted through logging and fire suppression to dense stands of young trees that produce poor cone crops and low densities of suitable nest trees (Garrett et al. 1996). If the present mountain pine beetle epidemic continues unabated, it may cause substantial habitat loss over the next decade (Westfall and Ebata 2008). For information on the legal status of this species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and to view the Recovery Strategy, see the SARA Registry.


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Great BasinGreat Basin, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon Region