The Golden-naped Woodpecker is endemic to the Pacific slope of southern Central America, where it ranges from southwest Costa Rica to western Panama. This species typically occurs in humid forested areas below 1500 m, although, like many other Melanerpes species, the Golden-naped Woodpecker appears able to persist in areas subject to a degree of environmental disturbance. The upperparts are predominantly black, with white markings on the back and rump, the underparts are largely barred, while in males the forehead is yellow, the crown red, and the nape yellow. In contrast females have almost the entire crown and nape yellow, except for black bar above the eyes. Like congenerics, Golden-naped Woodpecker usually is encountered in pairs or small family groups.