North American woodpecker can be found year-round over the southwestern United States north to extreme southern Nevada and extreme southeastern Colorado, south to include most of Mexico, and in Central America as far south as Nicaragua.
The Ladder-backed Woodpecker measures 16.5 to 19 cm (6 - 7 inches) in length. The plumage is primarily colored black and white, with a barred pattern on the back and wings resembling the rungs of a ladder.
The rump is speckled with black. The cream-colored underparts are also speckled with black on the breast and flanks.
Adult males can be identified by their red crown patches, which are smaller in immature males and absent in adult females.
This species resembles the Nuttall's Woodpecker (found in southern California and northern Baja California), but the former has much less black on the head and upper back.