Family Ovenbirds (Furnariidae)

Least Concern

Strong-billed Woodcreeper (Xiphocolaptes promeropirhynchus)


French: Grimpar géant German: Starkschnabel-Baumsteiger Spanish: Trepatroncos picofuerte

Dendrocolaptes promeropirhynchus


, 1840,

no locality = “Bogotá”, Colombia


Closest to X. albicollis. Races usually divided into three groups, treated as separate species by some authors: “emigrans group” (Middle America), “promeropirhynchus group” (mountains of W & N South America), and “orenocensis group” (primarily Amazonian lowlands). Populations in mountains of N South America may be closer to those in Amazonian lowlands than to those in Peruvian and Bolivian Andes; affinities of race crassirostris problematic, possibly allied with “orenocensis group” but occurring W of Andes. Assessment of geographical variation complicated by marked individual variation within taxa. Race ignotus sometimes merged with nominate; rostratus is perhaps a synonym of fortis; virgatus poorly defined, intergrades with nominate on E slope of C Colombian Andes; and sanctaemartae very similar to procerus; racial identity of birds in Guianan lowlands uncertain, tentatively placed with tenebrosus. Vocalizations of Middle American, Andean and Amazonian populations remarkably similar, given degree of morphological differentiation; in contrast, some songs in S Mexico (Oaxaca) and in C Andes of Colombia (R Cauca slope) appear very different from the species’ “typical” songs#R. Thorough taxonomic revision needed. Published records from N Argentina apparently referable to misidentified Dendrocolaptes picumnus. Twenty-five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • X. p. omiltemensis Nelson, 1903 – subtropical zone in SW Mexico (Sierra Madre del Sur, in C Guerrero).
  • X. p. sclateri Ridgway, 1890 – E & SE Mexico (SE San Luis Potosí, Hidalgo, W Veracruz, N Oaxaca).
  • X. p. emigrans P. L. Sclater & Salvin, 1859 – Central American Strong-billed Woodcreeper – mountains (rarely lowlands) from S Mexico (Chiapas), N Guatemala, W Belize and El Salvador E to NC Nicaragua.
  • X. p. costaricensis Ridgway, 1889 – highlands of C Costa Rica and SW Panama (Chiriquí).
  • X. p. panamensis Griscom, 1927 – mountains on Pacific slope of S Panama (Veraguas, Coclé).
  • X. p. sanctaemartae Hellmayr, 1925 – N Colombia (Santa Marta Mts).
  • X. p. rostratus Todd, 1917 – N Colombian lowlands in Córdoba and Bolívar (Sinú Valley E to Serranía San Lucas and Magdalena Valley).
  • X. p. fortis Heine, 1860 – range unknown, likely either N Colombia or Venezuela (known only from unique type, no locality given).
  • X. p. virgatus Ridgway, 1890 – upper tropical to temperate zones of W slope of C Colombian Andes, also on E slope (E to R Magdalena).
  • X. p. promeropirhynchus (Lesson, 1840) – Andean Strong-billed Woodcreeper – subtropical and temperate zones in N Colombia (W slope of E Andes E of R Magdalena) and W Venezuela (Sierra de Perijá, Trujillo, Mérida, Táchira).
  • X. p. procerus Cabanis & Heine, 1860 – #Rtropical and subtropical zones in mountains of N & C Venezuela (NW Zulia, N Mérida and Lara E to Sucre, S to N Monagas and E Guárico; probably also this race in NE Bolívar#R).
  • X. p. macarenae Blake, 1959 – Macarena Mts and E foothills of C Colombian Andes (S Meta, Caquetá).
  • X. p. neblinae Phelps, Sr & Phelps, Jr, 1955 – subtropical zone on Cerro de la Neblina, in S Venezuela (S Amazonas); possibly also adjacent N Brazil.
  • X. p. tenebrosus J. T. Zimmer & Phelps, Sr, 1948 – upper tropical zone on tepuis of SE Venezuela (Chimantá-tepui and Mt Roraima, in SE Bolívar) and adjacent Guyana (Acary Mts), probably also adjacent tepuis of N Brazil; also lowlands of the Guianas (except Suriname).
  • X. p. ignotus Ridgway, 1890 – subtropical and temperate zones of Ecuadorian Andes.
  • X. p. crassirostris Taczanowski & Berlepsch, 1885 – subtropical zone in Andean foothills in SW Ecuador (W El Oro, Loja) and NW Peru (Tumbes, Piura).
  • X. p. compressirostris Taczanowski, 1882 – temperate zone of N Peruvian Andes (Amazonas, Cajamarca, San Martín).
  • X. p. phaeopygus Berlepsch & Stolzmann, 1896 – temperate zone of C Peruvian Andes (Junín).
  • X. p. lineatocephalus (G. R. Gray, 1847) – subtropical and temperate zones of Andes from SE Peru (Cuzco) S to NW & C Bolivia (La Paz, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz).
  • X. p. solivagus J. Bond, 1950 – upper tropical zone on E slope of E Peruvian Cordillera (Chanchamayo region, in Junín, probably also N to Huánuco).
  • X. p. orenocensis Berlepsch & E. J. O. Hartert, 1902 – Amazonian Strong-billed Woodcreeper – NW Amazonian lowlands N of Amazon, from E Colombia and S Venezuela (Amazonas) S to NE Ecuador, NE Peru and NW Brazil (E to R Negro).
  • X. p. berlepschi E. Snethlage, 1908 – Amazonian lowlands of W Brazil S of R Solimões (E to R Madeira); W limit of range unclear.
  • X. p. paraensis O. M. O. Pinto, 1945 – C Amazonian Brazil, S of Amazon, from R Madeira E to R Xingu, S to N Mato Grosso (Alta Floresta).
  • X. p. carajaensis J. M. C. Silva et al., 2002 – SE Amazonian Brazil S of Amazon, from R Xingu E to R Tocantins and R Araguaia, in Pará.
  • X. p. obsoletus Todd, 1917 – lowlands of N & E Bolivia (La Paz E to Santa Cruz).
  • Descriptive notes

    26–35 cm; male 111–169 g, female 102–142 g. Heaviest woodcreeper, with stocky body, medium-length tail, relatively long, decurved bill stout but laterally... read more


    Song, often given only a few times at dawn and dusk (from near top of large tree), a loud, ringing... read more


    Variety of forested habitats from tropical lowlands to subtropical and lower temperate zones of... read more

    Food and feeding

    Appears to be mainly insectivorous, but small vertebrates also taken. Both a grasshopper (Acrididae) and a cricket (Gryllidae) observed... read more


    Birds in breeding condition in late Mar to early May in Mexico, Belize, NW Colombia and S Venezuela, and in early Oct in Mato Grosso (... read more


    Probably resident throughout most of range; some birds in N of range may move downslope into... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Uncommon but local throughout most of range. Seemingly more common in mountains of N Central America and Santa Marta region (Colombia... read more

    Recommended citation

    Marantz, C.A., Aleixo, A., Bevier, L.R. & Patten, M.A. (2020). Strong-billed Woodcreeper (Xiphocolaptes promeropirhynchus). 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 23 February 2020).