Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Golden-breasted Woodpecker (Colaptes melanolaimus)


French: Pic à poitrine d’or German: Goldbrustspecht Spanish: Carpintero real sureño

Chrysopicus melanolaimus


, 1857,



Sometimes (with C. melanochloros) placed in a separate genus Chrysoptilus with the other “forest flickers” C. punctigula and C. atricollis, but phylogenetic analyses indicate that placement in Colaptes more appropriate#R. Present species usually considered conspecific with C. melanochloros, but differs in its somewhat larger size, with notably longer bill, although there appears to be a large area of intergradation and variability in Corrientes (NE Argentina) (for bill at least 1); black at distal end of submoustachial stripe (2); underparts paler, stonier, with heart-shaped and larger (vs circular or spade-shaped and smaller) spots below, becoming more distinctly barred on flanks and lower belly, and with coarser streaking on chin and throat (2); reduced barring on outer tail (ns[1–2]); narrower, stonier vs broader, yellow barring above with whitish vs yellowish rump (2); partly terrestrial vs largely arboreal behaviour (2); hybrid zone along R Paraná and R Uruguay (2). Additional named races patagonicus (WC Argentina) and perplexus (E Argentina) considered insufficiently differentiated to warrant recognition. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. m. melanolaimus (Malherbe, 1857) – arid upland valleys in C & S Bolivia.
  • C. m. nigroviridis (C. H. B. Grant, 1911) – S Bolivia, W Paraguay, N & E Argentina (S to Córdoba and Buenos Aires) and W Uruguay.
  • C. m. leucofrenatus Leybold, 1873 – NW & WC Argentina (S to Neuquén, W Río Negro).
  • Descriptive notes

    c. 28–30 cm; 154–178 g (leucofrenatus). Male nominate race has black forehead and crown, becoming red on nape, with contrasting olive-whitish lores, cheeks and ear-... read more


    Call “kwiek-kwik-kwik”, similar to that of C. campestris; also “peah” and “krrew”,... read more


    Variety of habitats, from lowland forest to Andean desert scrub, including plantation forests.... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet almost exclusively of ants and their brood; also various other insects, e.g.Orthoptera, and winged termites (Isoptera) taken on the... read more


    Season mainly Aug/Sept–Jan. Display with wing-flicks, spread tail, swinging and bobbing head-and-body movements; calls for prolonged... read more


    At least partly migratory in extreme S and in Córdoba highlands of C Argentina; some move N to Gran... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Has large range, within which it is widespread. Common or reasonably common in most of range. No evidence of any decline in abundance... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Christie, D.A. (2019). Golden-breasted Woodpecker (Colaptes melanolaimus). 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 7 December 2019).