Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Rufous Woodpecker (Micropternus brachyurus)


French: Pic brun German: Rötelspecht Spanish: Carpintero rufo

Picus brachyurus


, 1818,



Name squamigularis sometimes used for Malay Peninsula race, but that is a junior synonym of badius, which thus has priority. Race williamsoni sometimes subsumed within badius, but probably worthy of recognition. Considerable individual variation, rendering racial delimitation difficult; form kanarae (from NW Karnataka, W India) included in jerdonii, and form celaenephis (from Nias I) inseparable from continental badius. Ten subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. b. humei Kloss, 1918 – N India (Himachal Pradesh) E to W Nepal.
  • M. b. jerdonii (Malherbe, 1849) – W India (S from S Gujarat) S to Sri Lanka.
  • M. b. phaioceps (Blyth, 1845) – C Nepal and E India E to Myanmar and S China (SE Tibet, W & S Yunnan) and S to S Thailand.
  • M. b. fokiensis (Swinhoe, 1863) – SE China and N Vietnam.
  • M. b. holroydi Swinhoe, 1870 – Hainan.
  • M. b. williamsoni Kloss, 1918 – S & SW Thailand.
  • M. b. annamensis Delacour & Jabouille, 1924 – Laos, Cambodia and C & S Vietnam.
  • M. b. badius (Raffles, 1822) – Malay Peninsula S to Sumatra, including Nias I, Bangka and Belitung.
  • M. b. brachyurus (Vieillot, 1818) – Java.
  • M. b. badiosus (Bonaparte, 1850) – Borneo and N Natuna Is.
  • Descriptive notes

    c. 25 cm; 55–84 g (badius, badiosus), 82–107 g (jerdonii), 92–114 g (phaioceps). Male has dark brown forehead to nape... read more


    Highly vocal: series of three nasal “kweep” or “keenk” notes delivered in... read more


    Primary forest and secondary forest, both evergreen and deciduous. Open forest, secondary growth,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Chiefly ants and their brood, particularly of genus Crematogaster, but also Pheidole and Oecophylla; also... read more


    Apr–Jun in Nepal, Sikkim and N Myanmar, Feb–Jun in S India and Sri Lanka, Jan–Apr in Thailand and Malaysia, May–Jun... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally common in India, uncommon in Nepal, scarce in Sri Lanka; common in China; fairly common to common throughout SE Asia and... read more

    Recommended citation

    Winkler, H. & Christie, D.A. (2019). Rufous Woodpecker (Micropternus brachyurus). 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 7 December 2019).