Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker (Picoides kizuki)


French: Pic kisuki German: Kizukispecht Spanish: Pico kizuki
Other common names: Pygmy Woodpecker

Picus kizuki


, 1835,

Kyushu, Japan


This species, along with P. temminckii, P. maculatus, P. ramsayi, P. canicapillus, P. nanus and P. moluccensis, was previously placed in Dendrocopos, but molecular studies indicate that these form a separate clade of very small species, evidently sister to the P. tridactylus clade#R#R; all seven have been combined in Yungipicus by some authors. Varies clinally, becoming smaller and darker from N to S. Present arrangement somewhat tentative, based on recently published list#R, and probably in need of revision; some of listed forms may not be sufficiently distinct to warrant recognition. Eleven subspecies provisionally recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. k. permutatus (Meise, 1934) – SE Siberia (Ussuriland), N Korea and adjacent NE China (Liaoning)
  • P. k. seebohmi (Hargitt, 1884) – Sakhalin, and S Kuril Is and N Japan (Hokkaido).
  • P. k. wilderi (Nagamichi Kuroda, 1926) – E China (N Hebei, Shandong).
  • P. k. nippon (Nagamichi Kuroda, 1922) – Korea (except NE), including Jeju I (Quelpart), and C Japan (most of Honshu).
  • P. k. kotataki (Nagamichi Kuroda, 1922) – Oki Is and Tsushima (W Japan).
  • P. k. shikokuensis (Nagamichi Kuroda, 1922) – S Japan (SW Honshu and Shikoku).
  • P. k. kizuki (Temminck, 1835) – Kyushu (S Japan).
  • P. k. matsudairai (Nagamichi Kuroda, 1921) – Yakushima (off S Kyushu) and Izu Is.
  • P. k. amamii (Nagamichi Kuroda, 1922) – Amami Is, in N Ryukyus.
  • P. k. nigrescens (Seebohm, 1887) – Okinawa, in SC Ryukyus.
  • P. k. orii (Nagamichi Kuroda, 1923) – Iriomote, in S Ryukyus.
  • Descriptive notes

    13–15 cm; 18–26 g. Male has grey-brown forehead and crown, darker hindcrown and hindneck, small red patch at nape side (often concealed by overlying fea­thers... read more


    Distinctive, buzzing “kzz, kzz” notes, also single “khit” or “khit-... read more


    Ranges from lowland woods to subalpine mixed coniferous forest, and from subtropical evergreen to N... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly arthropods: insects and their pupae, caterpillars, weevils (Curculionidae), aphids, small ants of genera Lasius and ... read more


    Late Apr to end May in Amur-Ussuri region; in Japan, from late May or early Jun in N and from Mar in S. Monogamous and solitary, but... read more


    Mostly resident; minor altitudinal movements to lowlands take place in winter in N parts of range. read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common; in Japan the commonest woodpecker. Rarer in S parts of range; generally uncommon in Siberia and China. Adaptable species, able to live... read more

    Recommended citation

    Winkler, H. & Christie, D.A. (2019). Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker (Picoides kizuki). 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 9 December 2019).