Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Black-naped Woodpecker (Picus guerini)


French: Pic de Guérin German: Asiengrauspecht Spanish: Pito nuquinegro

Chloropicos Guerini


, 1849,

China = Ningpo and Shanghai


Hitherto considered conspecific with P. canus and P. dedemi, but differs from former in its deeper, more extensive red on forecrown (2); black hindcrown (with some grey streaking) vs grey hindcrown with vague blackish streaking (3); darker green plumage above (1); reportedly marked vocal differences#R (assume at least 1);  differs from P. dedemi in its green vs bronzy-red upperparts and breast (3), bright yellowish-green vs brilliant red rump (3), and green belly and vent vs bronzy-black mid-belly shading to blackish on belly and vent (2). Races intergrade in many areas. Described forms gyldenstolpei (NE Indian Subcontinent), brunneatus and setschuanus (both from Sichuan) and hainanus (Hainan) considered not to warrant separation, although confinement of same subspecies to highly disjunct Taiwan and Hainan appears improbable. Eight subspecies currently recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. g. sanguiniceps E. C. S. Baker, 1926 – NE Pakistan, N India and extreme W Nepal.
  • P. g. hessei Gyldenstolpe, 1916 – Nepal and NE India E to Myanmar, extreme S China (S Yunnan) and most of Thailand to Vietnam.
  • P. g. guerini (Malherbe, 1849) – E China (C Sichuan and Shaanxi to Shandong and Zhejiang).
  • P. g. kogo (Bianchi, 1906) – C China from Qinghai E to Shanxi and S to Sichuan.
  • P. g. sordidior (Rippon, 1906) – SE Tibet E to W Sichuan, and S to NE Myanmar and Yunnan.
  • P. g. sobrinus J. L. Peters, 1948 – NE Vietnam and SE China (Guangxi E to Fujian).
  • P. g. tancolo (Gould, 1863) – Taiwan and Hainan.
  • P. g. robinsoni (Ogilvie-Grant, 1906) – mountains of C Peninsular Malaysia (Gunung Tahan and Cameron Highlands).
  • Descriptive notes

    28–33 cm; 143–165 g (sanguiniceps), 137 g (female hessei). Male nominate race has red forehead and forecrown, black hindcrown and nape (some grey streaks on... read more


    Single “kik” calls; “keek, kak-kak-kak-kak” calls common outside breeding season. Territorial call... read more


    Open alder (Alnus) or oak forest in Nepal and N Myanmar, and open deciduous and coniferous... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet consists mostly of ants (Myrmica, Lasius), termites (Isoptera) and their brood, also other insects (e.g. Coleoptera... read more


    Season Apr–Jun. Excavates nest-hole (occasionally uses natural hole) in tree at 0·2–10 m, commonly between 1·5 m and 8 m, occasionally... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Has extremely large range, within which it is reasonably widespread but nowhere truly abundant. Global population not quantified.... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Christie, D.A. (2019). Black-naped Woodpecker (Picus guerini). 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 13 December 2019).