Scarlet-backed woodpecker

The scarlet-backed woodpecker (Veniliornis callonotus) is a species of bird in the family Picidae. It is found in Colombia, Ecuador and northern Peru where its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests and subtropical or tropical dry shrubland. It is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as being a species of "least concern".

Scarlet-backed woodpecker
Scarlet-backed Woodpecker - Ecuador S4E7608.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Piciformes
Family: Picidae
Genus: Veniliornis
V. callonotus
Binomial name
Veniliornis callonotus
(Waterhouse, 1841)
Veniliornis callonotus map.svg
  • Dryobates callonotus


The scarlet-backed woodpecker is a striking bird with scarlet upper parts and whitish underparts. It is between 13 and 15 cm (5 and 6 in) in length. The male has red, streaked with black, on crown and nape while the female has these parts black, sometimes with some white feather-tips on the nape. Both sexes have the ear coverts and the area surrounding the eye brown, and the cheek, neck and throat white. The mantle, back, wings and upper tail-coverts are scarlet and the tail is black, apart from the outer feathers which are barred with white or buff. The underparts are white or cream, finely barred or streaked with pale grey. The iris is chestnut, the beak yellowish with darker base and tip, and the legs are grey. Juveniles resemble females but are mottled greenish-grey above and buff below.[2]

Distribution and habitatEdit

The scarlet-backed woodpecker is native to the western side of the Andes Mountains, its range extending from Colombia through Ecuador to northwestern Peru. It is mostly a bird of lowlands and foothills but is found at altitudes of up to 1,500 m (5,000 ft) in Peru and 1,800 m (6,000 ft) in Ecuador. It typically inhabits dry deciduous woodland, thickets and cactus scrub, as well as riverine woodland, forest fragments and open areas with isolated trees.[2]


This woodpecker is usually seen in pairs or small family groups, foraging in scrub and the twigs and outer branches at most levels in the canopy. Its diet is presumed to be small invertebrates and its breeding habits are poorly known.[3]


The scarlet-backed woodpecker is described as a common species and is expanding its range in Ecuador, perhaps because it thrives in the degraded forest and secondary growth that occurs after primary forest is felled. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed its conservation status as being of "least concern".[1]


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2016). "Veniliornis callonotus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22681184A92895993. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22681184A92895993.en. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b Gorman, Gerard (2014). Woodpeckers of the World: A Photographic Guide. Firefly Books. pp. 294–295. ISBN 978-1770853096.
  3. ^ Winkler, H.; Christie, D.A.; Bonan, A. "Scarlet-backed Woodpecker (Veniliornis callonotus)". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. Retrieved 28 May 2017.