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This woodpecker occurs in forests and semi-open woodland and cultivation. It nests in a hole in a dead tree or large cactus. The clutch is two eggs, incubated by both sexes, which fledge after 31–33 days.
Adults are 20.5 cm (8.1 in) long and weigh 48 g (1.7 oz). They have a zebra-barred black and white back and wings and a white rump. The tail is black with some white barring, and the underparts are pale buff-brown.
The male has a red crown patch and nape. The female has a buff crown and duller nape. Immature birds are duller, particularly in the red areas of the head and neck. The subspecies M. r. terricolor of Tobago is larger and darker-breasted than the nominate race.
Red-crowned woodpeckers feed on insects, but will take fruit and visit nectar feeders.
This common and conspicuous species gives a rattling krrrrrl call and both sexes drum on territory.
- Hilty, Steven L. (2003). Birds of Venezuela. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-7136-6418-5.
- ffrench, Richard; O'Neill, John Patton; Eckelberry, Don R. (1991). A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago (2nd ed.). Ithaca, N.Y.: Comstock Publishing. ISBN 0-8014-9792-2.
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- Red-crowned woodpecker videos, photos, and sounds at the Internet Bird Collection
- Red-crowned woodpecker Stamps from Venezuela at bird-stamps.org
- Red-crowned woodpecker photo gallery at VIREO (Drexel University)
- Red-crowned woodpecker species account at NeotropicalBirds (Cornell University)