Dryobates Scalaris – Ladder-Backed Woodpecker

Dryobates Scalaris - Ladder-Backed Woodpecker

Dryobates scalaris or commonly known as the Ladder-backed woodpecker is a species of woodpecker found in North America. Some taxonomic authorities, such as the American Ornithological Society, continue to classify this species as belonging to the genus Picoides, despite the evidence to the contrary. They also belong to the Picidae family.

This species does not make a drumming sound on wood. The birds move quickly and prefer to travel large distances between foraging locations in order to get food. These woodpeckers also have a proclivity to whirl and twist, flutter, and hop in a continuous motion.

Quick Overview: Dryobates Scalaris – Ladder-Backed Woodpecker
Body size: Around 6-7.25 in (15-18 cm) and a weight of 31 g (1.1 oz)
Main colors: Black, White, Gray, Red
Range: Southwestern United States
Migratory Bird: No
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: All Year (January – December)
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Ladder-backed woodpecker Description

Ladder-backed woodpeckers have black and white plumage with ladder-like stripes on the back and checkered wings. Buffy white or gray underparts stippled with black. Black lines from the beak and eye to the neck break up the buffy white face. Their red crowns contrast with their blackish ones.

Dryobates Scalaris - Ladder-Backed Woodpecker
Dryobates Scalaris – Ladder-Backed Woodpecker, Photo by: Kris Petersen


These birds have a length of 6-7.25 in (15-18 cm) and a weight of 31 g (1.1 oz). Their wings could range from 11-12 in (28-30 cm).


Forages on tree trunks, limbs, and the ground for insects and cactus fruit.


Forrest-like habitats with deciduous trees such as cottonwoods and sycamores as well as pine-oak forests. Only a few desert competitors.


Ladder-backed Woodpeckers forage by hitchhiking across branches and pecking at insects or larvae. Their calls or quick drumming on trees usually alert people to their presence. Their flight is swift and undulating, but not for long.

Dryobates scalaris Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Piciformes
  • Family: Picidae
  • Genus: Dryobates
  • Species: Dryobates scalaris

Other common names

This species is also called the desert woodpecker.

Best time of the year to see

In the United States, the best time of year to see these birds is all year round, regardless of the season. This refers to any month of the year between January and December.

Distribution of the Ladder-backed woodpecker in the USA

In the southwestern United States, this little desert woodpecker can be found all across the region. From southern California, southern Nevada, southwest Utah, southeast Colorado, western Oklahoma, and Texas south through Mexico to northern Central America and northeast Nicaragua, it has a range that includes the United States and Canada. This woodpecker is more common in the northern part of its range than in the southern half.

The Ladder-backed woodpecker can be found in the following states in the United States – Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

Dryobates Scalaris – Ladder-Backed Woodpecker

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 15 MB. You can upload: image. Drop file here

Scroll to top