Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Beautiful Woodpecker (Melanerpes pulcher)


French: Pic splendide German: Schmuckspecht Spanish: Carpintero lindo

Melanerpes pulcher

P. L. Sclater

, 1870,

near Bogotá, Colombia


Sometimes placed in a separate genus Tripsurus, along with M. cruentatus, M. flavifrons and M. pucherani, and including M. chrysauchen, with which usually considered conspecific. Differs from chrysauchen in crown of male distinctly unlike latter’s owing to whitish (not yellow) frons, more extensive red on mid-crown (covering nape) and this red a deeper shade (more scarlet than flame) (3); barring of upper flanks in both sexes extending and joining across lower breast (plain in chrysauchen) (2); crown of female very different owing to whitish (not yellow) frons, smaller area of this coloration on frons, much broader and richer black mid-crown (both at front edge and at back edge), with narrower coloration on nape, which is mostly flame-red with yellow lower fringe (in chrysauchen nape more extensively yellow, same colour as frons) (3); blacker wings of female (dusky-black in chrysauchen) (ns[1]). Monotypic.


NC Colombia (Magdalena Valley).

Descriptive notes

c. 17–18 cm. Male has whitish forehead, scarlet-red crown to nape (some blackish feather bases may be visible), golden-yellow lower nape and hindneck; narrow black area... read more


Commonest call loud, rather squeaky, sometimes more guttural, usually of 3 notes; also gives... read more


Open tall forest, humid or dry, and sometimes found in plantations; occasionally ventures into... read more

Food and feeding

Diet includes insects such as wood-boring beetles and their larvae, winged termites and the like. Takes much fruit, e.g. figs, bananas and... read more


Little information available. Season probably Feb/Mar–Jun/Jul.



Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Restricted-range species: present in Nechí Lowlands EBA. Has a fairly large range in the Magdalena Valley of C Colombia. Global... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Christie, D.A. (2020). Beautiful Woodpecker (Melanerpes pulcher). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 25 February 2020).