Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Yellow-tufted Woodpecker (Melanerpes cruentatus)


French: Pic à chevron d’or German: Gelbbrauenspecht Spanish: Carpintero azulado
Other common names: Red-fronted Woodpecker (“rubrifrons”)

Picus cruentatus


, 1783,



Sometimes placed in a separate genus Tripsurus, along with M. flavifrons, M. chrysauchen, M. pulcher and M. pucherani. Thought to be closest to M. flavifrons. Black-headed morph (mostly in S & SE Venezuela, the Guianas and Amazonian Brazil, where it predominates) was formerly considered a separate species, M. rubrifrons, but interbreeds freely with yellow-tufted morph wherever the two co-occur; hence, no grounds even for subspecific division. W & S populations (Colombia to Venezuela and W Brazil, and S of there) described as race extensus on basis of difference in tone and extent of red on belly, but this character varies greatly among all populations, and racial separation considered untenable. Monotypic.


E Colombia and S & SE Venezuela E to the Guianas and NE Brazil (E to Maranhão), S to E Ecuador, E Peru, N & E Bolivia and Mato Grosso.

Descriptive notes

c. 19 cm; 48–64 g. Small, dark-looking woodpecker with broad pale eyering, occurring in two morphs. Male of black-headed morph has red, often round-shaped patch on... read more


Noisy, with various loud, hoarse calls like those of M. formicivorus: single “chowp... read more


Rainforest, secondary growth, forest edge, and burnt-over clearings with isolated trees; sometimes... read more

Food and feeding

Insects (ants and others) and large quantities of fruits (berries) are main constituents of diet; other arthropods, e.g. spiders and... read more


Mainly Jun–Aug in E Peru E to the Guianas, from Mar in Colombia, to Sept along R Negro; Mar–Jun in Bolivia and Amazonian Basin... read more



Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Generally common and conspicuous; fairly adaptable. Common in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Occurs in numerous protected areas, including Amacayacu... read more

Recommended citation

Winkler, H. & Christie, D.A. (2020). Yellow-tufted Woodpecker (Melanerpes cruentatus). 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).