Hoffmann's Woodpecker Melanerpes hoffmannii

  • Order: Piciformes
  • Family: Picidae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: Luis Sandoval


Distinguishing Characteristics

Hoffmann's Woodpecker is a medium sized woodpecker with barred back and wings. This woodpecker has yellow nasal feathers, whitish to beige forehead, red crown, and golden-yellow to yellow nape. The belly is golden-yellow to yellow, with a white rump, and barred underparts and flanks. Females lack the red crown.

Similar Species

Hoffmann's Woodpecker is similar to Golden-fronted Woodpecker (Melanerpes aurifrons) and Red-crowned Woodpecker (Melanerpes rubricapillus). Hoffmann's Woodpecker males are distinguishable from Golden-fronted Woodpecker males by the golden orange (or, in some individuals, orange yellowish) nape; the nape is red (concolor with the crown) in males of the sympatric subspecies (santacruzi) of Golden-fronted. Females of the two species are more similar, but again, the nape of Golden-fronted is more reddish. Males of Hoffmann's Woodpecker are distinguishable from males Red-crowned Woodpecker males by the golden orange nape (red in Red-crowned Woodpecker, concolor with the crown). Females of both species have grayish crowns, but the is red or reddish in Red-crowned Woodpecker, and yellow in Hoffmann's. Additionally, the belly is yellowish on Hoffmann's Woodpecker (both sexes) but reddish in Red-crowned Woodpecker (both sexes).

Detailed Description

Adult male:  Nasal tufts pale yellow. Forecrown and supercilium dull white, supercilium becoming light gray behind the eye. Crown bright red; nape bright yellow or orange. Back, scapulars, and upper rump barred black and white, the white bars averaging 1.5-2 mm in width and slightly narrower than the black bars. Lower rump and uppertail coverts white. Rectrices black, the central pair with inner web broadly barred with white, and the outer web with a longitudinal white streak on the basak half; the outermost pair of rectrices with the distal portion of the outer webs barred with white. Wings black, the coverts and secondaries barred with white, and the primaries spotted with white. Sides of head, of throat, and of breast drab yellowish gray, becoming dull grayish, buffy white or yellowish white on the chin, throat, and breast. Center of belly bright yellow. Flanks and undertail coverts dull yellowish white, broadly barred with black.

Adult female: Similar, but crown dull white, becoming light gray on rear crown, and nape pale yellow.


No available information.

Bare Parts

Iris: hazel

Bill: black

Tarsi and toes: bluish gray to gray


Total length: 18 (Stiles and Skutch 1989), 19-21 cm (Winkler et al. 1995, Winkler and Christie 2002)

Linear measurements (from Ridgway 1914):

male (n = 13)

wing length: mean 120 mm (range 116.5-125 mm)

tail length: mean 56 mm (range 53-61.5 mm)

bill length: mean 26.3 mm (range 24-28 mm)

tarsus length: mean 20.5 mm (range 20-21 mm)

female (n = 18)

wing length: mean 117.8 mm (range 112-125.5 mm)

tail length: mean 54.9 mm (range 50-60.5 mm)

bill length: mean 23.7 mm (range 22-26 mm)

tarsus length: mean 19.6 mm (range 19-21 mm)

Mass: 62-84 g (n = ?; Short 1982)

Recommended Citation

Sandoval, L. (2013). Hoffmann's Woodpecker (Melanerpes hoffmannii), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.hofwoo1.01