Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Scarlet-backed Woodpecker (Veniliornis callonotus)


French: Pic rubin German: Scharlachrückenspecht Spanish: Carpintero escarlata

Picus callonotus


, 1841,

Guayaquil, Ecuador


Member of the V. passerinus clade (which see). Race major intergrades freely with nominate in SW Ecuador, where many individuals have intermediate appearance. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • V. c. callonotus (Waterhouse, 1841) – SW Colombia (Nariño) and W Ecuador (S to Guayas and coastal El Oro).
  • V. c. major (Berlepsch & Taczanowski, 1884) – SW Ecuador (El Oro, Loja) and NW Peru (N La Libertad, and NE Cajamarca and NW Amazonas).
  • Descriptive notes

    c. 13 cm; 23–33 g. Male has black feathers of forehead to nape extensively tipped red, greyish-brown ear-coverts; rest of face, including very thin line below eye,... read more


    Commonest call a rattle, 1–2 seconds long; also sharp “ki-dik”, sometimes in... read more


    Arid scrub with scattered trees and cacti, dry deciduous forest, semi-humid forest and edges, and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Details of diet not recorded. Often in pairs. Forages at various levels in trees, often on smaller branches and very thin twigs.


    Little information. In W Ecuador, male with brood patch and nest with fledged young in Jul, juvenile seen in Jul, and immatures... read more


    Apparently resident.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Reported to be very local in SW Colombia; fairly common in Ecuador and also in Peru. Occurs in Río Palenque Science Centre and Cerro Blanco... read more

    Recommended citation

    Winkler, H., Christie, D.A. & Bonan, A. (2020). Scarlet-backed Woodpecker (Veniliornis callonotus). 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).