Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker (Picoides moluccensis)


French: Pic nain German: Braunscheitelspecht Spanish: Pico de la Sonda
Other common names: Sunda Woodpecker, Brown-capped Woodpecker (when lumped with P. nanus)

Picus moluccensis

J. F. Gmelin

, 1788,

Moluccas; error = Malacca


This species, along with P. temminckii, P. kizuki, P. maculatus, P. ramsayi, P. canicapillus and P. nanus, was previously placed in Dendrocopos, but molecular studies indicate that they all form a separate clade of very small species, evidently sister to the P. tridactylus clade#R#R; all seven have been combined in Yungipicus by some authors. Present species was, until recently, treated as conspecific with P. nanus, but separated by recent authors#R on “several characters”, enumerated here as: dark vs pale iris (3); lack of red eyering (2); possession of dark malar stripe (3); and heavier streaking below (ns[1]). Birds from Alor (C Lesser Sundas) described as race excelsior, but represent clinal variation. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. m. moluccensis (J. F. Gmelin, 1788) – W & S Peninsular Malaysia S to Greater Sundas, including Riau Archipelago, Bangka and Belitung.
  • P. m. grandis (Hargitt, 1882) – Lesser Sundas from Lombok E to Alor.
  • Descriptive notes

    13 cm; 15–18 g  Male has blackish-brown forehead to hindneck, small red line at side of hindcrown, broad blackish-brown band through ear-coverts and down neck side... read more


    Common call a fast, high-pitched trilled “kikikikikiki”; also a whirring “trrrrr-... read more


    Light deciduous forest, secondary forest, bamboo, trees near cultivation, also tall trees near... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, particularly ants and other hymenopterans, beetles and their larvae, caterpillars; fruits, berries and flower nectar also taken.... read more


    Season Mar–Aug in Peninsular Malaysia, and Apr–Jul, also Oct, in Sundas. Nest-hole excavated 4·5 m (range 2–14 m,... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Uncommon to locally common in Peninsular Malaysia and throughout Sundas. Appears to be fairly adaptable; some increases noted in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Winkler, H. & Christie, D.A. (2020). Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker (Picoides moluccensis). 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 29 February 2020).