Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

White-fronted Woodpecker (Melanerpes cactorum)


French: Pic des cactus German: Kaktusspecht Spanish: Carpintero de los cardones

Picus cactorum


, 1839,

near Chaluani and Chilon, Mizqué, Bolivia


Formerly separated in monotypic genus Trichopicus, but characters similar to those of typical Melanerpes. Despite some variation in throat colour (from all white to all yellow), differences not sufficiently constant geographically to warrant recognition of any races. Monotypic.


C & SE Bolivia (S from Cochabamba and Santa Cruz) to W Paraguay and N Argentina (S to La Rioja, NE San Luis and NW Entre Ríos, E to W Corrientes), and S Brazil (SW Mato Grosso, W Mato Grosso do Sul; Rio Grande do Sul)#R.

Descriptive notes

c. 16–18 cm; 29–53 g. Male has white forehead and forecrown, lores, moustachial region and lower ear-coverts; small partly concealed patch of red near front of... read more


Loud “weep-weep” and “wee-beep”, resembling call of Sphyrapicus varius... read more


Dry forest; frequents forest edge, savanna, gallery forest, bush country (Chaco), montane scrub;... read more

Food and feeding

Diet includes insects and fruits; ants apparently important, beetles also recorded. Recorded predating an egg of Eared Dove (Zenaida... read more


Sept–Dec. Co-operative breeder in groups of up to 5 or more birds; possibly loosely colonial. Bowing displays observed, with much... read more


Probably some seasonal movements.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Reasonably common in much of range; locally very common in Argentina; rare in Peru. Occurs in Chancaní and Monte de las Barrancas Reserves (... read more

Recommended citation

Winkler, H., Christie, D.A. & Bonan, A. (2019). White-fronted Woodpecker (Melanerpes cactorum). 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 14 December 2019).