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Picumnus castelnau

Plain-breasted Piculet

  • Order: Piciformes
  • Family: Picidae
  • Monotypic

Authors: Schulenberg, Thomas S., and Hope Batcheller

Life History


Insectivorous, but the diet essentially is unknown.


Very poorly known. Foraging behavior generally similar to that of other species of Picumnus. Plain-breasted Piculets forage actively for very small insects on slender, upper branches of medium sized trees, mainly from 6-15 m above the ground, but lower along edges, and occasionally even foraing in weedy thickets. Hops agilely along or up and down slender branches, picking at bark, or pauses to tap on the ends of broken off twigs and branches. Plain-breasted Piculet is partial to the open branches of leguminous trees and stems of Cecropia leaves, where they may feed on small ants (T.A. Parker, unpublished observations; see also Rosenberg 1990).

Unlike larger woodpeckers, piculets do not use the tail as a brace against the substrate.


Little information. T.A. Parker (unpublished observations) observed pairs vigorously defending territories of 1.0-2.0 ha in river island forest.

Sexual Behavior

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Social and interspecific behavior

Usually encountered as single individuals, pairs or small (family?) groups of 3-4, which sometimes associate with loose mixed species flocks of small passerines, including becards (Pachyramphus), flycatchers, Hooded Tanager (Nemosia pileata), and conebills (Conirostrum) (Remsen in Hilty and Brown 1986, T.A. Parker unpublished observations).


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Presumably nests in a small cavity, but the nest and eggs are undescribed. A female was observed feeding a fledgling in Colombia in late June (Remsen 1977).

Populations and Demography

There is no information related to topics such as age at first breeding, life span and survivorship, dispersal, or population regulation for Plain-breasted Piculet.

Recommended Citation

Schulenberg, Thomas S., and Hope Batcheller. 2012. Plain-breasted Piculet (Picumnus castelnau), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: