Pictured is a foraging male Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Picoides scalaris. This small member of the Picidae or woodpecker family is found throughout the arid southwest and prefers brushy scrublands with cactus. This fella is wearing the red cap of the male and it is normal for them to have the reddish brown spotted stripe up the middle of the forehead. Females of this species sport black caps.
In the above image, you can see the horizontal striping on the feathers in the middle of its back. Notice also the use of the stiff tail feathers to brace the bird while it grips the trunk of the tree with its feet. These birds walk along branches and hop from one to another when the branches and foliage are thick as they are here.
This little fella is about the size of a grackle or blackbird and is seen here tapping and prying on the bark for the insects and other arthropods it may find to eat. Notice the use of the tail feathers as a prop. The bark has a row of holes drilled in it, but this is more likely the handiwork of the Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers that live in the neighborhood.
Picoides scalaris is the currently recognized scientific name of these little woodpeckers. If you go looking in older scientific literature or various places on the internet for more information, you might find Dendrocopus scalaris, or Dryobates scalaris used to refer to these birds. These names are no longer recognized as the proper name for this species. Cornell University’s All About Birds website is a good place to find more about these beautiful additions to your local ecosystem and your lifetime birdlist.