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 long and weigh 48g. 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. 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.
- Birds of Venezuela by Hilty, ISBN 0-7136-6418-5
- Birds of Trinidad and Tobago by French, ISBN 0-7136-6759-1
Media related to Red-crowned woodpecker (Melanerpes rubricapillus) at Wikimedia Commons