Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Crimson-crested Woodpecker (Campephilus melanoleucos)


French: Pic de Malherbe German: Schwarzkehlspecht Spanish: Picamaderos barbinegro

Picus melanoleucos

J. F. Gmelin

, 1788,



This species, and all current congeners except C. magellanicus, C. principalis and C. imperialis, formerly placed in genus Phloeoceastes. Closely related to C. guatemalensis and C. gayaquilensis. Races intergrade quite extensively; birds from S half of range formerly grouped together as race albirostris. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. m. malherbii G. R. Gray, 1845 – W Panama E to N & C Colombia.
  • C. m. melanoleucos (J. F. Gmelin, 1788) – E of Andes, from Colombia E to Trinidad and NE Brazil, S to Bolivia, Paraguay, N & NE Argentina and Mato Grosso.
  • C. m. cearae (Cory, 1915) – NE Brazil (Maranhão to Ceará and Bahia#R).
  • Descriptive notes

    33–38 cm; 181–284 g. Large woodpecker. Male has cream-buff feathering around base of bill, narrow black line across lower forehead, small oval area of black and... read more


    Main call likened to tree-frog’s, “kwirr kwirr-ah” or “squeer squeer-ah-hah... read more


    Very wide range of habitats: cloudforest, rainforest, terra firme and várzea... read more

    Food and feeding

    Chiefly larvae of large (e.g. 4 cm) wood-boring beetles, also hard-shelled insects, ants, termites (Isoptera); takes pyralid caterpillars,... read more


    Mainly Nov–Jan in Panama, from end of rainy season to beginning of dry; Dec–May in Colombia, Apr–Jul in N Venezuela, Dec... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Fairly common in much of range; uncommon in some regions, e.g. Trinidad. Occurs in numerous protected areas throughout exensive range... read more

    Recommended citation

    Winkler, H. & Christie, D.A. (2020). Crimson-crested Woodpecker (Campephilus melanoleucos). 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 24 February 2020).