Closely related to C. auricularis, and sometimes considered conspecific. Both were previously placed in Piculus, but recent phylogenetic analyses indicate that they are embedded within Colaptes#R. Until recently, present species included C. aeruginosus, but differs in male’s red supercilium extending from nape to bill vs extending from nape to above eye (2); rear ear-coverts barred vs clear (1); bars on underparts less scale-shaped (1); wings and tail shorter (effect size for tail vs C. r. yucatanensis −3.63; score 2); wholly different song (protracted rising rattling trill vs deliberate slow-paced series of c. 6 typical picoid high-pitched “kwi” calls), extensive playback experiments yielding frenzied response from own taxon, no response from other taxon (4). Considerable individual variation in coloration and pattern, making defining and delimitation of races difficult; those listed best regarded as a tentative general guide, requiring clarification through further research. Additional named races include maximus (E & C Pacific highlands of SE Mexico and Guatemala), differens (Pacific slope of Guatemala), uropygialis (mountains of Costa Rica and W Panama), and in Colombia pacificus (W Andes), michaelis (SE Nariño), palmitae (W slope of E Andes in N) and nuchalis (E slope of Andes near Ecuador border), all of which fall within range of variation of other races. Eighteen subspecies recognized.
Food and feeding
Status and conservation
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