The Golden-fronted Woodpecker is composed of four subspecies that differ in size, amount of barring on the tail, and the color of the nape, nasal tufts, and belly. Whereas the nape of the form found in Texas and most of Mexico is yellow to orange, it is red on the Yucatan Peninsula and orange farther south. The four forms were formerly considered different species.
The Golden-fronted Woodpecker consumes about as much fruit and nuts as it does insects. In summer in Texas, the faces of some woodpeckers become stained purple from eating fruit of the prickly pear cactus.