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Campephilus melanoleucos

Crimson-crested Woodpecker

  • Order: Piciformes
  • Family: Picidae
  • Polytypic 3 Subspecies

Authors: Rosenblatt, Connor

Campephilus melanoleucos

Pium municipality, Tocantins, Brazil; 5 September 2010 © Martjan Lammertink

Crimson-crested Woodpecker is the most widespread species of Campephilus. It occurs regularly from Panama south to northern Argentina, including across the Guianan Shield and throughout Amazonia. It is a very large, robust woodpecker with a large red crest. The male is distinguished from other co-occurring large woodpeckers by the combination of barred underparts and an entirely red head that lacks facial stripes, and has only a suggestion of a black-and-white "slash" below the eye. Females have a black front to the crest, and a very broad white malar stripe that continues into the white strip down the neck. In contrast, the most similar species throughout its range is the smaller Lineated Woodpecker (Dryocopus lineatus), but the male Lineated has a narrow white stripe from the bill that connecting with the white neck stripe. The female Lineated is more similar in plumage to the female Crimson-crested, but the white malar strip is very narrow in Lineated, and very wide in Crimson-crested. Another feature to concentrate on is the white streaks on the back, which converge into a "V" pattern on Crimson-crested, but do not join in Lineated. Where it overlaps with Red-necked Woodpecker (Campephilus rubricollis), it is easily identified by plumage, and Red-necked occurs in more closed forest. It is replaced west of the Andes by Guayaquil Woodpecker (Campephilus gayaquilensis), which looks and sounds remarkably similar to Crimson-crested. It is also replaced at higher elevations in the Andes by Powerful Woodpecker (Campephilus pollens). Crimson-crested Woodpecker is found in a variety of habitats, from forest to forest edge and light woodland. It usually occurs in pairs or family groups and can be quite noisy. The drum of Crimson-crested Woodpecker typically consists of 3-5 raps.

Recommended Citation

Rosenblatt, Connor. 2012. Crimson-crested Woodpecker (Campephilus melanoleucos), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:

This map is based on the maps available from the NatureServe InfoNatura website. The data for these maps are provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE.

  • Migration/Movement:Resident (nonmigratory)
  • Primary Habitat:Tropical lowland evergreen forest
  • Foraging Strata:Midstory/Canopy
  • Foraging Behavior:Hammer
  • Diet:Terrestrial invertebrates
  • Sociality:Solitary/Pairs
  • Mating System:Monogamy
  • Nest Form:Cavity
  • Clutch: 2 - 2
  • IUCN Status:Least Concern