Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Pale-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus guatemalensis)


French: Pic à bec clair German: Königspecht Spanish: Picamaderos piquiclaro

Picus guatemalensis


, 1844,



This species, and all current congeners except C. magellanicus, C. principalis and C. imperialis, formerly placed in genus Phloeoceastes. Closely related to C. melanoleucos and C. gayaquilensis. Birds from Sonora described as race dorsofasciatus on basis of more barred rump, but this character matched by individuals of nelsoni. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. g. nelsoni (Ridgway, 1911) – W Mexico from S Sonora S to Oaxaca.
  • C. g. regius Reichenbach, 1854 – E Mexico from Tamaulipas S to Veracruz.
  • C. g. guatemalensis (Hartlaub, 1844) – Veracruz, Chiapas and Yucatán Peninsula to W Panama.
  • Descriptive notes

    31–38 cm; 205–244 g (guatemalensis), 263–282 g (regius). Male has entire head and short bushy crest red, usually slightly darker on rear... read more


    Loud bleating “kint”, similar to that of C. principalis; loud nasal rattle,... read more


    Humid and dry forest and edge, clearings with scattered trees, also tall second growth, plantations... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, mostly larvae of wood-boring beetles (frequently Cerambycidae), scarabaeid larvae and ant larvae, comprise more than 70% of diet;... read more


    Jan–May in Mexico and N Central America, and Aug–Dec farther S. Paired throughout year. Crest-raising display. Nest a deep... read more


    Resident; possibly some local movements.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to common; widespread in suitable habitats. Locally common in wholly or partly forested areas, but infrequent in extensively deforested... read more

    Recommended citation

    Winkler, H. & Christie, D.A. (2019). Pale-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus guatemalensis). 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 11 December 2019).