By Melissa Wynn

Plumas County was named for the amazing feather but all of California’s woodpeckers showcase a variety rivaled by few other species. A shining example is a fuzzy black and white known as the Downy Woodpecker. Youngsters wear a bright red cap that becomes a smaller red patch on adult males and disappears all together on females by adulthood.

White-Headed Woodpeckers also call the forests of Plumas County home. These fluttering fashion shows prefer the tailored look sporting a bright white head atop a sleek body with a sassy white racing stripe in the wings. Adult males and juveniles sport the red on the head while the ladies prefer no hat at all.

The rebel of the bunch is the Black-Backed Woodpecker sporting slightly disheveled striped sides and a bold facial stripe. The solid black back melts over the top of the head, leaving the rest of the face and belly white. Adult Males insist on being different choosing their caps in yellow. This species is rare and best seen in areas recently inflicted by fire where they hunt for wood boring beetles.

The Black-Backed is a rebel but the Pileated Woodpecker goes totally punk. These hammerers of the hard woods are big and bad and both sexes sport a fire red crest resembling  a mohawk. A solid black body with a few white stripes along the neck give that leather jacket look of the wild. Adult males flash a red facial stripe that the girls find quite attractive.

photo courtesy of

Lewis’s Woodpecker prefers to wear the red in front. A dark red face and pink or salmon belly give this pride of the pines an elegant appearance under a greenish black head and back. A muted gray collar and chest finish off the demure polished look. Juveniles must wait to grow into the red face and the collar also comes with maturity. Look and listen while in the Plumas County of feathers and check out the woodpeckers are wearing.