Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Golden-cheeked Woodpecker (Melanerpes chrysogenys)


French: Pic élégant German: Goldwangenspecht Spanish: Carpintero cariamarillo

Picus chrysogenys


, 1839,

no locality; probably Mazatlán, in Sinaloa, or San Blas or Tepic, in Nayarít, western Mexico


Sometimes separated with other barred congeners in Centurus. Variation clinal; interior population (Morelos, adjacent Michoacán) often separated as race morelensis, tending to be paler with less yellow and orange than flavinuchus, but considerable overlap with latter in plumage characteristics. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. c. chrysogenys (Vigors, 1839) – W Mexico from S Sinaloa to Nayarit.
  • M. c. flavinuchus (Ridgway, 1911) – Jalisco E to SW Puebla and SE along coast to E Oaxaca.
  • Descriptive notes

    19–22 cm; 55–88 g. Male has whitish forehead with golden-yellow at base of bill, red crown (usually becoming more golden-orange on nape), bright yellow-gold... read more


    Many churring calls and short series of notes, e.g. nasal “ki-di-dik”, more explosive... read more


    Mesic to xeric forest and edge, forest patches, open areas with scattered trees and plantations.... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, including adults and larvae of beetles, ants; also various fruits and seeds. Forages singly and in pairs, at middle and upper... read more


    May–Jul. Nest-hole in tree or cactus. Clutch size and other aspects of breeding undescribed.



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common to fairly common; widespread within range, recorded at numerous sites. A little-known species. Research required on its ecology and breeding... read more

    Recommended citation

    Winkler, H. & Christie, D.A. (2020). Golden-cheeked Woodpecker (Melanerpes chrysogenys). 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).