The White-barred Piculet inhabits open forest and scrub. This species has a disjunct distribution, with populations in northern South America in southwestern Guyana, and in French Guiana and northeastern Brazil; and in south central South America, from Bolivia east to southern Brazil. The White-barred Piculet has a black crown (with a red forecrown in the male), dull brown upperparts and cheek patches, and white underparts that are barred with black. Their diet consists mainly of the larvae and eggs of wood-boring beetles, as well as ants and possibly sap. White-barred Piculets forage by audibly hammering in order to excavate holes in trees and shrubs. The White-barred Piculet has a complex taxonomy; it includes three subspecies groups (in northern, south central, and southeastern South America), each of which perhaps is a separate species. The White-barred Piculet also is closely similar to several other species of piculet. The White-barred may hybridize with several other similar species of piculet where their distributions come in contact, such as with Varzea Piculet Picumnus varzae along the Amazon River; with Ocellated Piculet Picumnus dorbignyanus in Bolivia; with Ochre-collared Piculet Picumnus temminckii in southeastern Brazil; and with White-wedged Piculet Picumnus albosquamatus in Bolivia.