Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Yucatan Woodpecker (Melanerpes pygmaeus)


French: Pic du Yucatan German: Yucatanspecht Spanish: Carpintero yucateco

Centurus rubriventris pygmæus


, 1885,

Cozumel Island, Mexico


Sometimes separated with other barred congeners in Centurus. Close to M. rubricapillus, and has been listed as conspecific, but differs in denser dorsal barring from nape to rump and across wing-coverts (number of pale bars nape to rump 20–21 vs 11–14 in rubricapillus in sample of 3 males each; pattern similar across all taxa and both sexes) (3); more gold on frontal lores and chin (2); longer tail (effect size 4.57, score 2). Recent molecular phylogeny#R indicates present species is probably part of a clade which also contains M. chrysogenys and M. carolinus (M. rubricapillus was not included in the study). Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. p. rubricomus J. L. Peters, 1948 – Yucatán Peninsula S to C Belize.
  • M. p. pygmaeus (Ridgway, 1885) – Cozumel I (off NE Yucatán Peninsula).
  • M. p. tysoni (J. Bond, 1936) – Guanaja I (off N Honduras).
  • Descriptive notes

    c. 16–18 cm; 35–43 g. Male has golden to golden-orange lower forehead, lores, front of moustachial region and chin, buffish-white upper forehead, forecrown and... read more


    Soft rolling “churr, pyurr-r-r”, also dry laugh e.g “chuh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh”... read more


    Deciduous forest, edge, clearings, second growth, coastal scrub. Generally at lower elevations than... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet not documented. Forages at lower levels than sympatric congeners. In other aspects, probably very similar to M. rubricapillus. read more


    Breeds Apr–May. No other details available.



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to common within relatively small range, although nominate race on Cozumel I has apparently declined markedly since early 1990s. Occurs... read more

    Recommended citation

    Winkler, H., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Yucatan Woodpecker (Melanerpes pygmaeus). 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 20 January 2020).