Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Melancholy Woodpecker (Dendropicos lugubris)


French: Pic à raies noires German: Düsterspecht Spanish: Pito lúgubre

Dendropicus lugubris


, 1857,

Aguapim, Ghana


Closely related to D. gabonensis and sometimes treated as conspecific, a view supported by the fact that race reichenowi of latter (in Nigeria and Cameroon) is somewhat intermediate between present species and nominate D. g. gabonensis, and indeed was formerly considered to belong instead to present species; present species, however, differs from D. g. reichenowi in its broader, browner vs narrower, blacker streaks on breast and flanks, and including malar (2); plain brown vs grey-streaked black ear-coverts (2); black tail with black shaft streaks vs green-brown tail with pale brown shaft streaks (2); slightly larger size (mean bill 19.2, n=5, vs 18.1, n=5) (1). Monotypic.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.

Sierra Leone to Togo and SW Nigeria#R.

Descriptive notes

c. 17–18 cm. Male has olive-brown forehead and crown, red nape, thin white supercilium, brown ear-coverts, white neck sides and broad white cheekstripe, broad brown... read more


Common call a drawn-out buzzing note, as that of D. gabonensis; also fast rattle, “... read more


Open forest, second growth, forest edge, clearings, also Gmelina woodland; also gallery... read more

Food and feeding

Insects, including ants, beetle larvae. Usually in pairs or family parties; often joins mixed-species foraging flocks. Forages mainly in... read more


Oct–Mar in Sierra Leone; nestlings found in Mar and Apr in Liberia. Nest-hole at 15–30 m in dead tree branch or dead part of... read more



Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Rather uncommon throughout relatively small range. Common in Sierra Leone. Locally not uncommon to common in Liberia, where estimated 50,000 pairs.... read more

Recommended citation

Winkler, H. & Christie, D.A. (2019). Melancholy Woodpecker (Dendropicos lugubris). 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 5 December 2019).