Dendropicos is a genus of woodpeckers in the family Picidae. They are small woodpeckers that are native to the sub-Saharan woodlands and forests.[1]

Male Cardinal Woodpecker (Dendropicos fuscescens).jpg
Cardinal woodpecker (Dendropicos fuscescens)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Piciformes
Family: Picidae
Tribe: Melanerpini
Genus: Dendropicos
Malherbe, 1849
Type species
Dendropicos lafresnayi
Malherbe, 1849

see text


The genus Dendropicos was introduced by the French ornithologist Alfred Malherbe in 1849.[2] The type species was subsequently designated as one of the subspecies of the cardinal woodpecker.[3][4] The word Dendropicos is from the Greek dendron meaning tree and pikos for woodpecker.[5] Molecular genetic studies have shown that the genus Dendropicos is sister to the genus Chloropicus.[6]

The genus Dendropicos formerly contained several additional species. A 2015 molecular phylogenetic study that analysed nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequences from pied woodpeckers found that Dendropicos was polyphyletic. In the rearranged genera the bearded, fire-bellied and yellow breasted woodpeckers were moved to Chloropicus while the Arabian woodpecker was moved to Dendrocoptes.[7][8] The taxonomic committee of the British Ornithologists' Union have recommended an alternative arrangement of species in which the genera Dendrocoptes and Leiopicus are combined into a larger Dendropicos.[9]

Elliot's, African grey, eastern grey and olive woodpecker are sometimes placed in a separate genus, Mesopicos.[1]

The genus contains the following 12 species:[8]

Image Common Name Scientific name Distribution
  Little grey woodpecker Dendropicos elachus Cameroon, Chad, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sudan
  Speckle-breasted woodpecker Dendropicos poecilolaemus Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Uganda.
  Abyssinian woodpecker Dendropicos abyssinicus Eritrea and Ethiopia
  Cardinal woodpecker Dendropicos fuscescens Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe
  Gabon woodpecker Dendropicos gabonensis Southern Nigeria to south-western Cameroon
  Melancholy woodpecker Dendropicos lugubris Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo
  Stierling's woodpecker Dendropicos stierlingi southern Tanzania, southwestern Malawi and northern Mozambique
Elliot's woodpecker Dendropicos elliotii Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Uganda
  African grey woodpecker Dendropicos goertae Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda
  Eastern grey woodpecker Dendropicos spodocephalus Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Sudan and Tanzania
  Olive woodpecker Dendropicos griseocephalus Angola, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe
  Brown-backed woodpecker Dendropicos obsoletus Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda


Only males have red plumage in the crown, and some species have red plumage on the rump or belly in either sex.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Gorman, Gerard (2014). Woodpeckers of the World: The Complete Guide (Helm Photographic Guides). London: Bloomsbury. p. 165. ISBN 978-1408147153.
  2. ^ Malherbe, Alfred (1849). "Nouvelle classification des picinée ou pics". Mémoires de l'Académie nationale de Metz (in French). 30: 316, 338.
  3. ^ Sclater, William Lutley (1921). "Genus Dendropicos". Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club. 42: 25.
  4. ^ Dickinson, E.C.; Remsen, J.V., Jr., eds. (2013). The Howard & Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines (4th ed.). Eastbourne, UK: Aves Press. p. 312. ISBN 978-0-9568611-0-8. |volume= has extra text (help)
  5. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 133. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  6. ^ Shakya, S.B.; Fuchs, J.; Pons, J.-M.; Sheldon, F.H. (2017). "Tapping the woodpecker tree for evolutionary insight". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 116: 182–191. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2017.09.005. PMID 28890006.
  7. ^ Fuchs, J.; Pons, J.M. (2015). "A new classification of the pied woodpeckers assemblage (Dendropicini, Picidae) based on a comprehensive multi-locus phylogeny". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 88: 28–37. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2015.03.016. PMID 25818851.
  8. ^ a b Gill, Frank; Donsker, David (eds.). "Woodpeckers". World Bird List Version 6.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  9. ^ Sangster, G.; et al. (2016). "Taxonomic recommendations for Western Palearctic birds: 11th report". Ibis. 158 (1): 206–212. doi:10.1111/ibi.12322.