Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Japanese Woodpecker (Picus awokera)


French: Pic awokéra German: Japangrünspecht Spanish: Pito japonés

Picus awokera


, 1826,

Honshu, Japan


Three races often recognized: large and pale awokera (Honshu and nearby islands), smaller and darker horii (Shikoku, Kyushu, Tsushima), and smallest and darkest takatsukasae (Tanegashima, Yakushima). These, however, simply reflect a cline of decreasing size and increasing plumage darkness from N to S, and division into geographical races seems unjustified. Monotypic.


Japan from Honshu S to Shikoku, Kyushu, Yakushima and Tanegashima, and including offshore islands of Tobishima, Awashima, Sado and Tsushima.

Descriptive notes

c. 29–30 cm; 120–138 g. Male has blackish lower forehead and lores to below eye, red from mid-forehead to nape, variable amount of black and grey feathers (... read more


Loud “piyo” call, also “ket, ket”. Drums in quite fast rolls which are... read more


Fairly open mixed forest in N, and evergreen forest in S; rarely in mature conifer plantations. Has... read more

Food and feeding

Chief component of diet is ants (Lasius, Formica, Camponotus, Crematogaster); other arthropods taken... read more


Apr–Jun. Nest-hole in tree at 2–4 m; also excavates holes in telephone poles (possibly only roosts). Clutch 7 or 8 eggs; no... read more


Moves to lower habitats in severe winters.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. A fairly common inhabitant of hill areas and low mountains in Japan. Habit of digging holes in telephone poles can cause some problems locally, but... read more

Recommended citation

Winkler, H. & Christie, D.A. (2020). Japanese Woodpecker (Picus awokera). 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 20 January 2020).