Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Golden-tailed Woodpecker (Campethera abingoni)


French: Pic à queue dorée German: Goldschwanzspecht Spanish: Pito colidorado

Chrysoptilus Abingoni

A. Smith

, 1836,

district of Zeerust, North West Province, South Africa


In the past, type locality of species erroneously listed as Durban, in KwaZulu-Natal; with rectification, hitherto accepted name smithii becomes junior synonym of nominate. Closely related to C. mombassica and C. notata. Often treated as conspecific with former, but see that species; apparent hybrids between C. mombassica and race suahelica of present species recorded from EC Tanzania and from just S of Mt Kilimanjaro, in N of that country; further studies needed. Proposed race tessmanni (from Central African Republic) not distinguishable from chrysura, nor annectens (lower Congo and C Angola to Rwanda and Malawi) from nominate; likewise, vibrator (from NE South Africa) considered inseparable from suahelica. Six subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. a. chrysura (Swainson, 1837) – Senegambia to Central African Republic, S South Sudan, NE DRCongo and W Uganda.
  • C. a. abingoni (A. Smith, 1836) – lower R Congo and W DRCongo E to W Tanzania, and S to NE Namibia, NW Zambia, Zimbabwe and N South Africa.
  • C. a. kavirondensis van Someren, 1926 – E Rwanda, NW & NC Tanzania and SW Kenya.
  • C. a. suahelica (Reichenow, 1902) – N Tanzania (Arusha, Moshi, N Pare Mts) to E Zimbabwe, Mozambique, N Swaziland and NE South Africa.
  • C. a. anderssoni (Roberts, 1936) – SW Angola, Namibia (except NE) and SW Botswana to NW South Africa (Northern Cape and North West Provinces).
  • C. a. constricta Clancey, 1965 – S Swaziland, extreme S Mozambique and E South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal).
  • Descriptive notes

    20–23 cm; 51–58 g (race chrysu­ra), 61·5–83 g (abingoni, suahelica). Male has red forehead to nape, feathers with... read more


    Call loud and distinctive, single plaintive “dreee-aw” or “weeea”, often by... read more


    Almost all kinds of woodland and forest edge. Occurs in coastal forest, evergreen forest and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects and their larvae, mainly arboreal ants; also millipedes (Diplopoda). Generally singly or in pairs; often associates with ... read more


    Fledgling fed by adult in Jun in the Gambia; otherwise Aug–Dec (mainly Sept–Nov in S Africa). Nest-hole drilled (over course of... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common; common in Angola, Malawi and Zambia; uncommon and local in Kenya and Tanzania; rare to uncommon across much of W Africa. Common in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Winkler, H., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Golden-tailed Woodpecker (Campethera abingoni). 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 30 March 2020).