Beautiful woodpecker

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Beautiful woodpecker
MelanerpesPulcherSmit cleaned.png
Adult male (foreground, above) and female (background, below)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Piciformes
Family: Picidae
Genus: Melanerpes
Species: M. pulcher
Binomial name
Melanerpes pulcher
(Sclater, 1870)

The beautiful woodpecker (Melanerpes pulcher) is a bird species in the woodpecker family (Picidae). It is endemic to Colombia.

Until recently, it was united with the golden-naped woodpecker (M. chrysauchen) of Central America as subspecies. But the different appearance and allopatric ranges argue in favor of recognizing the two as distinct species. According to "Birds of Northern South America" by Robin Restall the back is barred and the belly and breast are white, but that appears to be in error based on photos of the birds in Colombia.

Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and heavily degraded former forest.


The beautiful woodpecker is a colourful bird about 18 cm (7 in) long. It is similar in appearance to the black-cheeked woodpecker and the golden-naped woodpecker but their ranges do not overlap. The sexes are similar apart from the male having a yellow fore-crown while the fore-crown in the female is black. Both sexes have a red mid-crown and yellow nape, and a black mask surrounding the eyes and running to the nape. The lores, cheeks, chin, throat and breast are cream or pale yellow. The mantle and upper wings are mainly black, with some white barring of the flight feathers, and the back and rump are white, sometimes blotched with black. The tail is brown, the lower breast, belly and flanks are barred in black and white, and there is a red patch on mid-belly. The iris is black, the beak is greyish-black and the legs are grey.[2]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The beautiful woodpecker is endemic to the valley of the Magdalena River in Colombia, where it occurs at altitudes of up to 1,000 m (3,300 ft) or occasionally higher. It is present in both dry and humid forests and plantations, and sometimes in forest remnants and secondary growth.[2]


The beautiful woodpecker is largely frugiverous, its diet including figs, bananas, fruits of the Cecropia tree and palm nuts, as well as insects and small invertebrates. It is able to catch flying insects on the wing.[2]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Melanerpes pulcher". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Gorman, Gerard (2014). Woodpeckers of the World: A Photographic Guide. Firefly Books. pp. 122–123. ISBN 177085309X.