Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Golden-spangled Piculet (Picumnus exilis)


French: Picumne de Buffon German: Goldschuppen-Zwergspecht Spanish: Carpinterito telegrafista

Picus exilis

M. H. C. Lichtenstein

, 1823,

São Paulo; error = Bahia, Brazil


May be more closely related to P. fuscus; previously regarded as closest to P. aurifrons. Formerly treated by many authors as conspecific with P. nigropunctatus, which was included as a synonym of form salvini; latter, described from “Bogotá” skins with no type locality, had earlier been lumped as race of present species; all pre-1990s taxonomic conclusions were, however, based on totally inadequate material, with very few study skins available, and recent research using series of specimens has shown salvini to be almost certainly a synonym of P. squamulatus obsoletus. Subspecies name buffonii sometimes spelt as buffoni, but former spelling selected by First Reviser#R. Six subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. e. undulatus Hargitt, 1889 – extreme E Colombia (E Vichada, E Guainía), SE Venezuela, N Brazil (Roraima) and W Guyana.
  • P. e. clarus J. T. Zimmer & Phelps, Sr, 1946 – E Venezuela (E Bolívar and S Delta Amacuro).
  • P. e. buffonii Lafresnaye, 1845 – E Guyana E to NC Brazil (Amapá).
  • P. e. alegriae Hellmayr, 1929 – coastal NE Pará and NW Maranhão (NC Brazil).
  • P. e. pernambucensis J. T. Zimmer, 1947 – coasts of Pernambuco and Alagoas (NE Brazil).
  • P. e. exilis (M. H. C. Lichtenstein, 1823) – coastal Bahia S to Espírito Santo (EC Brazil).
  • Descriptive notes

    9–10 cm; 8·5–10 g. Male has black forehead to hindneck, feathers of forecrown tipped red, those of mid-crown to hindneck tipped white; buffish-white lores... read more


    Described as “tsilit, tsirrrr”.


    Rainforest and cloudforest, second growth, disturbed forest; also dense growth with bamboo along... read more

    Food and feeding

    Ants are the only kind of food documented. Species forages inconspicuously, alone or in pairs; also joins mixed-species flocks. Pecks and... read more


    Dec–Mar in Venezuela and Surinam. Nest excavated in branch or stump with soft wood. No other information available.


    Presumably resident.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). A very poorly known species; no data available on numbers; possibly at best uncommon. Occurs in Parque Estadual da Pedra Talhada in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Winkler, H. & Christie, D.A. (2020). Golden-spangled Piculet (Picumnus exilis). 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 January 2020).