Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Near Threatened

Northern Sooty Woodpecker (Mulleripicus funebris)


French: Pic en deuil German: Philippinenspecht Spanish: Picatroncos filipino norteño
Other common names: Sooty Woodpecker (when lumped with M. fuliginosus)

Picus funebris


, 1826,



Since 1940s until recently, has been considered conspecific with M. fuliginosus, but differs in its distinctly darker body plumage (2); red on male’s face extending from forehead back to forecrown, anterior ear-coverts and malar vs confined to submoustachial streak (2) and burgundy vs scarlet (2); smaller white spots on chin, throat, upper neck, neck sides and hindcrown (ns[1]); overall slightly larger size, with notably longer tail (effect size for tail 3.6; score 2); and call resembling a “soccer referee’s whistle”, apparently lacking in fuliginosus. Races mayri and parkesi differ little from nominate, and may be better synonymized. Three subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. f. mayri Gilliard, 1949 – N Luzon.
  • M. f. funebris (Valenciennes, 1826) – C & S Luzon, Marinduque and Catanduanes.
  • M. f. parkesi Manuel, 1958 – Polillo Is.
  • Descriptive notes

    30–32 cm; 139–183 g. Male has dark red forehead and forecrown, lores, cheeks, malar region and front of ear-coverts, usually some black feather bases showing,... read more


    Distinctive trill, “chil-lel-lel-lel-lel-lel”, c. 1 second long and likened to sound of... read more


    Evergreen forest, secondary forest, forest edge, and near cultivations, also montane oak (... read more

    Food and feeding

    No documented information on diet; presumed to feed mainly on arboreal invertebrates. Usually singly or in pairs, members of which maintain... read more


    Specimens with enlarged gonads in Mar, and recently fledged juvenile seen in May; season reported as Mar–May in Luzon and Polillo.... read more


    Probably resident.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. Uncommon to locally fairly common; reasonably common in e.g. Sierra Madre and the Subic Bay area of Luzon... read more

    Recommended citation

    Winkler, H. & Christie, D.A. (2020). Northern Sooty Woodpecker (Mulleripicus funebris). 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 25 February 2020).