Gray-crowned Woodpecker Colaptes auricularis

  • Order: Piciformes
  • Family: Picidae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: Cara Thompson and C. J. Beardmore


Distinguishing Characteristics

Gray-crowned Woodpecker a medium sized woodpecker with a gray crown and bronzy green upperparts. The sides of the face and underparts are cream, barred on the underparts with olive. The male has a broad red "moustache" streak.

Similar Species

Gray-crowned Woodpecker is similar to Golden-olive Woodpecker (Colaptes rubiginosus), although these two species are allopatric. Both species have olive green upperparts but Gray-crowned Woodpecker is slightly smaller and has little or no red on the rear part of the head. Both sexes of Golden-olive Woodpecker, in contrast, have a red nape, and in the male a band of red extends along the lower part of the gray crown all the way to the base of the bill. No other woodpecker within the range of Gray-crowned Woodpecker is likely to be confused with this species.

Detailed Description

The following description is based on Ridgway (1914) and Howell and Webb (1995):

Adult male: Crown and nape light gray. Back and scapulars pale olive to olive green (grayish when worn). Rump and uppertail coverts narrowly barred with pale yellow or yellowish white. Rectrices pale yellowish olive green; central rectrices tipped dusky, and outer rectrices sometimes with broad but indistinct darker bars or spots. Wings olive green, similar to back but somewhat brighter. Lores and sides of head pale brownish buff, the auriculars sometimes indistinctly barred with grayish. Broad red lateral throat stripe. Chin and upper throat dull white, the lower throat dull white more or less barred with dull grayish. Breast and belly yellowish white or pale yellowish, irregularly barred with olive. Underwing coverts pale yellow.

Adult female: Similar to adult male, but lacks the red lateral throat stripe.

Juvenile: Resembles female, but underparts barring is less distinct, and, in the male, the red lateral throat stripe is mixed with gray.


Undescribed; Gray-crowned Woodpecker probably follows the complex basic molt strategy.


Total length: 19.5-21 cm (Howell and Webb 1995), 20.2-22.2 cm (Ridgway 1914)

Linear measurements (from Ridgway 1914):

male (n = 3)

wing length: mean 120.2 mm (range 116.5-122 mm)

tail length: mean 69.3 mm (range 67-72 mm)

culmen length: mean 25.5 mm (range 25-26 mm)

tarsus length: mean 20.3 mm (range 19.5-21 mm)

female (n = 3)

wing length: mean 120 mm (range 119-121.5 mm)

tail length: mean 70 (range 67.5-72 mm)

culmen length: mean 23.7 mm (range 23-24.5 mm)

tarsus length: mean 19.8 mm (range 19-20.5 mm)

Mass: mean 65.4 g (range 63.9-68.3 g, n = 3, males; Dunning 2008)

Recommended Citation

Thompson, C. and C. J. Beardmore (2014). Gray-crowned Woodpecker (Colaptes auricularis), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.