The Chestnut Woodpecker is one of the more widespread species of Celeus woodpeckers ranging from Trinidad, eastern Venezuela, the Guianas, and through much of northern and central Amazonia from eastern Ecuador, southern Colombia south through eastern Peru and western Brazil to northern Bolivia. Several distinct subspecies are involved. Chestnut is a large Celeus, and unique, except for the yellow Cream-colored Woodpecker (Celeus flavus), in that it lacks black markings on the body and wings. Generally, it is entirely dark chestnut brown, including the large hammerhead crest, with shades differing with different subspecies. Males differ from females by having a red moustache and a paler ivory yellow bill. Found in a variety of habitats, but most often found in the mid-story of varzea forest, or along the edge of streams and oxbow lakes. In Amazonia overlaps with similar-looking Scale-breasted Woodpecker (Celeus grammicus), but differs by lacking the wavy black markings on the body and wings of Scale-breasted (which can be difficult to see). Scale-breasted is usually found more in terra firme forest. Vocalizations between the two are also quite different. Chestnut also overlaps in both range and habitat with Cream-colored Woodpecker, but is readily identified by plumage. Similar to other Celeus woodpeckers, it is known to forage on both ants and termites.