Golden-naped Woodpecker Melanerpes chrysauchen

  • Order: Piciformes
  • Family: Picidae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: Ming Alexander and Carole S. Griffiths


Most data from Skutch (1948) and Skutch (1969).


Males and females share the task of preparing the nest-cavity. Nest construction usually begins February or March, but may start to build cavities after the young fledge. The cavity extends about 30 cm below the lower edge of the doorway, which is about 33 cm in diameter. The bottom is rounded and without any lining of soft material (Skutch 1948).


In Costa Rica, the breeding season extends from late March to June. A single brood is reared each year. A second brood is rare and may occur if the first is reared very early, or if it consists of only one fledgling (Skutch 1969).

In addition, if the pair is not successful at their first attempt, they may try at least twice more. They lay between two to four eggs consecutively (Skutch 1948). Eggs are white and unmarked. The incubation period is 11 or 12 days (Skutch 1969). Both sexes incubate about equal amounts of time and eggs are attended for about 90 per cent of the time (Skutch 1948). The pair remains close, either in the nest for brief periods, or the non-incubating member may spend a large proportion of its free time pecking on the nest-tree itself.

Nestling Development

Newly hatched birds are blind and have pink skin with no trace of down. At six days, feather rudiments become visible as dark spots on the wings and shoulders. At nine days, pinfeathers are pushing out on the back and wings. At 9 to 12 days, their eyes are opened. At 19-26 days, they are covered with plumage. The young fledge at 33 to 37 days (Skutch 1969).


Both parents carry food in their bills to the nestlings. At two weeks, the two parents brought food ten times during the first half-hour of activity in the morning. At 18 days, nestlings will sometimes take food passed through the doorway from the parent (Skutch 1969).


They do not remove droppings after feeding nestlings but allow the droppings to accumulate and then remove them in successions of nest-cleaning. Parents take bills full of droppings to a nearby tree and toss them (Skutch 1969).

Recommended Citation

Alexander, M. and C. S. Griffiths (2012). Golden-naped Woodpecker (Melanerpes chrysauchen), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.