The Golden-olive Woodpecker is one of the most geographically widespread woodpeckers of the Neotropical region. It ranges through a wide variety of wooded habitats and over much of Middle America, from eastern Mexico just south of the US border to western Panama, and over much of highland northern and western South America. Given this broad range, it is perhaps unsurprising that some authors recognize up to 19 different subspecies. These differ principally in the color of the underparts and the extent of the dark barring below. All subspecies have green upperparts and a largely white cheek patch framed by red on the crown and malar, although the extent of this varies, and some races have a mainly black crown. The underparts are usually barred extensively with black, but some subspecies have mainly yellow underparts.