This highly restricted-range Brazilian endemic is sometimes considered to be conspecific with another piculet confined to northeast Brazil, the Tawny Piculet (Picumnus fulvescens), whose range lies further south and east of the Ochraceous Piculet. Confusion between them was undoubtedly heightened by the description of a new race of the present species, saturatus, which was subsequently demonstrated to lie in the synonymy of the Tawny Piculet. The two species are essentially very similar in morphology, but the Tawny Piculet is much more deeply saturated over the underparts, neck, and back. On current knowledge, the Ochraceous Piculet is considered endemic to northern Ceará and eastern Rio Grande do Norte, where it inhabits semi-deciduous woodland and adjacent tall caatinga, but also degraded habitats including abandoned orchards and even urban areas. The species was formerly listed as Vulnerable, but has recently been downlisted to Least Concern, in light of the much-improved knowledge of both its range and habitat requirements.