Crimson-crested Woodpecker Campephilus melanoleucos

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


Geographic Variation

Three subspecies recognized:

malherbii (Gray 1845)

Occurs in eastern Panama and northern Colombia

Similar to nominate melanoleucos, but differs by gray (not ivory) bill color, and "more extensive red around the eyes and more cinnamon-buff color of the underparts" (Short 1982).

melanoleucos (Gmelin 1788); type locality Surinam

Occurs from eastern Colombia south to Bolivia, and east to central Brazil

cearae (Cory 1915); type locality Juá, near Iguatú, Ceará, Brazil

Occurs in northeastern Brazil.

Similar to melanoleucos, but smaller (about 11% smaller), with a proportinately shorter tail (Short 1982). Woodpeckers of the vast region extending from Bolivia, Paraguay and northern Argentina north to Mato Grosso and Goias are intermediate between melanoleucos and cearae; these birds sometimes are recognized as a fourth subspecies (e.g. Short 1975), but these birds "bear no distinctive features and are highly variable", and so do not merit recognition as a separate subspecies (Short 1972).

Related Species

Campephilus melanoleucos forms a superspecies with Campephilus guatemalensis (Pale-billed Woodpecker) of Middle America and with Campephilus gayaquilensis (Guayaquil Woodpecker) of western Ecuador and northwestern Peru (Short 1975, 1982).

Fleischer et al. (2006) reported the first molecular phylogeny for the genus Campephilus, based on mitochondrial DNA sequence data. This survey, which omitted two species, Campephilus robustus (Robust Woodpecker) and Campephilus magellanicus (Magellanic Woodpecker), places melanoleucos in a clade with gayaquilensis (sister to melanoleucos), guatimalensis, and with Campephilus pollens (Powerful Woodpecker; basal species).

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.