White-headed Woodpecker
(Dryobates albolarvatus)


Picture of bird
© USFWS - License
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The White-headed Woodpecker is a rare resident of ponderosa pine forests, mainly in the southern Okanogan Valley, British Columbia. The population in Canada is too small to be monitored by the major bird surveys. Incidental sightings reported by birders suggest that there has been a large decrease in numbers since 1970; only a small number of individuals exist today. The extremely small population and ongoing threats to habitat led the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada to designate the White-headed Woodpecker as Endangered in 2000 (reassessed in 2010; COSEWIC 2010) and it was listed under the Species at Risk Act in 2003. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
COSEWIC (Canada)Endangered2010 
SARA (Canada)Endangered2003 
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Critically imperiled2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLarge DecreaseLowBelow Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada< 50 adults

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence


Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaVery Low

Conservation and management

White-headed Woodpeckers rely on the seeds of Ponderosa Pine as a primary food source. The greatest threat to the species is the ongoing loss of mature Ponderosa Pine forests as a result of forest fires, logging, urbanization, and pine beetle outbreaks (Chytyk and Fraser 2015a). Climate change may pose another threat to Ponderosa Pine forests, eventually affecting the White-headed Woodpecker, if weather changes continue to influence forest fires and pine beetle outbreaks (Environment Canada 2014d). 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 -- Conservation