Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Olivaceous Piculet (Picumnus olivaceus)


French: Picumne olivâtre German: Olivrücken-Zwergspecht Spanish: Carpinterito oliváceo

Picumnus olivaceus


, 1845,

Bogotá, Colombia


Closely related to P. granadensis, and possibly conspecific. In the past, race eisenmanni was referred to as perijanus, but this name invalid, as preoccupied by a race of P. cinnamomeus. Proposed race panamensis (from E Panama to extreme NW Colombia) considered insufficiently distinct from flavotinctus to warrant recognition; malleolus (N Colombia from N Sucre S to upper R Sinú and S Bolívar) regarded as indistinguishable from nominate. Six subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. o. dimotus Bangs, 1903 – E Guatemala, N Honduras and E Nicaragua.
  • P. o. flavotinctus Ridgway, 1889 – Costa Rica, Panama and extreme NW Colombia (N Chocó).
  • P. o. eisenmanni Phelps, Jr & Aveledo, 1966 – Sierra de Perijá in extreme NW Venezuela, possibly also in adjacent N Colombia.
  • P. o. olivaceus Lafresnaye, 1845 – W Colombia from N Sucre (Serranía de San Jacinto) S to upper R Sinú and S Bolívar, S in C Andes to lower Cauca Valley and in E Andes to Huila.
  • P. o. tachirensis Phelps, Sr & Gilliard, 1941 – E slope of E Andes in NC Colombia (Norte de Santander) and adjacent SW Venezuela (SW Táchira).
  • P. o. harterti Hellmayr, 1909 – SW Colombia (SW Nariño) and W Ecuador; recently recorded in NW Peru (Tumbes).
  • Descriptive notes

    8·5–10 cm; 10–15 g. Male has black forehead to nape, feathers of upper forehead and crown tipped red, hindcrown and nape spotted white; whitish lores; brown... read more


    Fine, rapid twitter or trill, soft and clear by partner arriving at hole, shrill and insect-like in... read more


    Wide variety of habitats, including borders of humid rainforest and cloudforest (apparently... read more

    Food and feeding

    Primarily ants (e.g. Camponotus, Pseudomyrmex, Crematogaster) and termites, including larvae and pupae; also... read more


    Dec–May in Costa Rica and Panama, and Feb–Sept in Colombia; often double-brooded. Nest excavated by both sexes at 0·9–9 m... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to uncommon in Guatemala to Honduras; uncommon to fairly common in Costa Rica; uncommon and rather local in Panama, but more widespread... read more

    Recommended citation

    Winkler, H. & Christie, D.A. (2019). Olivaceous Piculet (Picumnus olivaceus). 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 22 November 2019).