Crimson-crested Woodpecker Campephilus melanoleucos

  • Order: Piciformes
  • Family: Picidae
  • Polytypic: 2 subspecies
  • Authors: Connor Rosenblatt

Sounds and Vocal Behavior


Although usually silent, the Crimson-crested Woodpecker  has a variety of calls. During the breeding season, its most frequent call, variously described as "a hollow, popping series of notes, sometimes delivered in a rapid chatter: tkep-tkep-tkep" (Lane, in Schulenberg et al. 2010) or as kwirr kwirr-ah, often is given (Kilham 1972). Pairs may also express closeness through calls such as wuk wuk, wrr wrr, and uh uh (Kilham 1972).

For a representative audio recording with sonogram, see audio

The Crimson-crested Woodpecker also makes a variety of alarm calls. When disturbed at a nesting cavity,  a repeated ca-wa-rr-r call is given, while both males and females also deliver a shrill put put puttas call that may be repeated for minutes on end (Kilham 1972).

Additional audio recordings of Crimson-crested Woodpecker vocalizations can be heard at Macaulay Library and at xeno-canto.

Nonvocal Sounds

As is typical of woodpeckers, Crimson-crested Woodpecker advertises mechanically, by drumming on trees. Crimson-crested Woodpecker drums by making an initially strong blow, followed by a vibrating temble of weaker notes that is described as DA-drrr (Kilhem 1972) or as 3-5 heavy strikes (Lane, in Schulenberg et al. 2010). These drumming sounds are made during courtship rituals, assertions of dominance, territorial disputes, and simply for keeping in contact with other individuals throughout the day.

For a representative audio recording with sonogram, see audio

Crimson-crested Woodpecker also produces a steady drumming sound when excavating a nest cavity. They tap on the rim of the nest cavity when excavating, but will also tap on the inside of the nest cavity at a time of nest relief. Although they are silent fliers, Crimson-crested Woodpeckers produce a heavy sound with their wings, even when flying short distances.

Recommended Citation

Rosenblatt, C. (2012). Crimson-crested Woodpecker (Campephilus melanoleucos), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.