Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Bennett's Woodpecker (Campethera bennettii)


French: Pic de Bennett German: Bennettspecht Spanish: Pito de Bennett

Chrysoptilus Bennettii

A. Smith

, 1836,

North West Province, South Africa


Member of the C. nubica species-group (see C. nubica); sometimes treated as conspecific with C. scriptoricauda (which see) or with all members of group. Identity of birds in E Rwanda uncertain; they probably belong either to C. nubica or to nominate race of present species. Proposed race uniamwesica (Angola E to L Victoria and S to C Zambia) synonymized with nominate; buysi (described from R Cunene, on S Angola–N Namibia border) included within capricorni. Two subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. b. bennettii (A. Smith, 1836) – WC Angola E to SE DRCongo and Rwanda, possibly also Uganda (Merama Hills), and to W & S Tanzania, S to W Malawi, NE South Africa and S Mozambique; possibly this taxon in E Rwanda.
  • C. b. capricorni Strickland, 1853 – S Angola, SW Zambia, and adjacent N Namibia and Botswana.
  • Descriptive notes

    c. 24 cm; 61–84 g. Male has red forehead, crown and nape, forehead with small grey feather bases, broad red malar stripe with scattered black feather bases; neck side... read more


    Most frequent are “chuur” notes, and long series varying from “wi-wi-wi-wi” or “kee-kee-kee” to “... read more


    Well-developed mature woodland and bush country. Typically, miombo (Brachystegia) and gusu... read more

    Food and feeding

    Primarily ants, and termites (Isoptera) and their eggs; occasionally other insects and larvae. Rather social, regularly in pairs or family... read more


    Aug–Feb; peak in Oct- Nov in S. Hole excavated by both sexes, at 2–10 m in dead tree or in dead section of live tree, old hole... read more


    Resident; some short-distance post-breeding movement from arid areas to more favourable ones.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Everywhere variable in abundance, and with patchy distribution; locally common, in some places rare; absent from large parts of general range.

    Recommended citation

    Winkler, H. & Christie, D.A. (2019). Bennett's Woodpecker (Campethera bennettii). 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 12 December 2019).