Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Rufous-bellied Woodpecker (Dendrocopos hyperythrus)


French: Pic à ventre fauve German: Braunkehlspecht Spanish: Pico ventrirrufo

Picus hyperythrus


, 1831,

eastern Himalayas


Sometimes separated in monotypic genus Hypopicus#R#R, but placement in Dendrocopos probably more appropriate#R. Relationships within genus somewhat obscure; has been thought most likely related to S Asian pair D. atratus and D. macei; suspected close affiliation with Dryobates cathpharius now shown to be unfounded#R. Variation, particularly in tone of underparts, is considerable, but largely individual. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • D. h. marshalli (E. J. O. Hartert, 1912) – Himalayan foothills in NE Pakistan, Kashmir and N India.
  • D. h. hyperythrus (Vigors, 1831) – N India (Uttarakhand) and Nepal E to C & S China (SE Tibet, Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan), and S to Bangladesh, C Myanmar and NW Thailand.
  • D. h. annamensis (Kloss, 1925) – E Thailand, Cambodia, S Laos and S Vietnam#R.
  • D. h. subrufinus (Cabanis & Heine, 1863) – NE China (Heilongjiang) and Ussuriland, possibly also N Korea; winters S China and N Vietnam.
  • Descriptive notes

    20–25 cm; 40–53 g (hyp­erythrus, annamensis), 53–74 g (marshalli, sub­rufinus). Male has bright red forehead to... read more


    Call “chit-chit-chit-r-r-r-r-h”; fast “ptíkitititititit” in alarm.... read more


    Broadleaved forest and mixed and coniferous forest. In Pakistan, prefers deciduous forest with... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, and vegetable matter. Ants can constitute more than 60% of diet; beetles (Carabidae), Orthoptera, Lepidoptera and caterpillars,... read more


    Apr–May in Bhutan, Nepal and India; Mar–May in SE Asia. Nest a typical woodpecker hole excavated at 1–6 m in trunk of... read more


    NE populations (subrufinus) migratory, passing through C China in May and again in Aug... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Rather uncommon to scarce in most of range. Possibly locally more common in N India and Nepal, common in Bhutan; no recent records... read more

    Recommended citation

    Winkler, H., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Rufous-bellied Woodpecker (Dendrocopos hyperythrus). 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 10 December 2019).