The woodpecker genus Campephilus includes mainly species formerly separated in a distinct genus Phloeoceastes (Campephilus previously included only C. magellanicus, C. principalis, and C. imperialis). Of the 11 Campephilus species (or 12 if Splendid Woodpecker is split from Crimson-bellied Woodpecker, as in the treatment by del Hoyo et al. 2014), two are now likely extinct (Ivory-billed and Imperial Woodpeckers).
Powerful Woodpecker (C. pollens). The Powerful Woodpecker is distributed in the Andes in South America from Venezuela through Colombia and Ecuador south to central Peru. It is found mainly between 1700 and 2600 m, although it also occurs outside this range. It is associated with mature montane forest, humid and wet forest, cloud forest, and forest borders, but can also be found in secondary forest, open forest, and forest edge. These birds are often encountered in pairs, feeding mainly on trunks and large limbs at all levels.
Crimson-bellied Woodpecker (C. haematogaster). The Crimson-bellied Woodpecker (including Splendid Woodpecker, C. h. splendens) occurs in the mountains of Central America and northern South America from Panama through Colombia and western Ecuador to Peru. It is associated with humid and wet forest and forest edges, most often in tall forest such as semi-open várzea forest. It is found from lowlands to 1600 m in Panama, above 900 m in Peru, locally to 1500-2000 m. These woodpeckers, which are very shy, are usually encountered in pairs or families. They forage at low levels in dense forest, especially on the trunks of large trees, and at slightly higher levels in more open habitats. Where the range overlaps with that of the Guayaquil Woodpecker, this preference for foraging at lower levels separates the two. The diet includes large adult beetles and very large larvae of wood-boring beetles. The Crimson-bellied Woodpecker has recently been split into two species, C. splendens, which occurs from Panama to western Ecuador, and C. haematogaster, found from the eastern Andes of Colombia to Peru (del Hoyo et al. 2014).
Red-necked Woodpecker (C. rubricollis). The Red-necked Woodpecker is the most common large woodpecker in much of northern South America, where it is found from Venezuela and the Guianas through the Amazonian basin to northern Bolivia and eastern Peru. Red-necked Woodpeckers occur in rain forest, terra firme (non-flooded) and várzea forests and cloud forest, forest edge, light second growth, semi-open woodland on sand, and riverine woodland in savanna regions. This is mainly a lowland species, usually not ranging above 600 m (although it is known from up to 1800 m in southern Venezuela and northwestern Brazil and even 2400 m in La Paz, Bolivia). Red-necked Woodpeckers are often found in pairs or small family groups feeding conspicuously, especially from middle to upper heights on trunks and limbs of tall trees, although they feed also lower down and in the canopy. Known foods include large larvae of beetles and pyralid moths.
Robust Woodpecker (C. robustus). The Robust Woodpecker occurs in eastern central South America (mainly Brazil), where it is found in humid forests and araucaria forests, frequenting disturbed forests only if large trees are present. It is found from lowlands to 1000 m (in hills to 2200 m). Robust Woodpeckers forage at all levels, but never (or rarely) on the ground. They forage singly, in pairs, or in family groups and only rarely join mixed-species flocks.
Pale-billed Woodpecker (C. guatemalensis). The Pale-billed Woodpecker (=Flint-billed Woodpecker) forms a superspecies with C. melanoleucos and C. gayaquilensis. Pale-billed Woodpeckers are found in Central America from Mexico through Guatemala to western Panama. They can be common in well forested area, but are rarely found in extensively deforested areas. They occur in tall rain forest as well as in humid and dry forest and edge, gaps, and clearings with scattered trees. They also occur in tall second growth and in the lower parts of the pine-oak woodland belt (in the northern portion of the range), plantations, and mangroves. They occur from lowlands and foothills up to 2000 m in Mexico and Guatemala, up to 1200-1500 m in Panama and on the southern Pacific slope of Costa Rica, and up to 1000 m in northern Costa Rica. Pale-billed Woodpeckers occur singly or in pairs. They are paired throughout the year, but sleep singly in cavities. Although these are essentially forest birds, they often forage in cleared areas. They tend to forage at higher levels, but descend lower at edges, clearings, or in second growth. Although they favor trunks and large branches, they use small twigs as well. The diet is composed largely of larvae of wood-boring beetles (often cerambycids), scarabaeid larvae, and ant larvae, although some fruit is eaten as well.
Crimson-crested Woodpecker (C. melanoleucos). The Crimson-crested Woodpecker (= Black-and-White Woodpecker, Malherbe's Woodpecker) forms a superspecies with C. guatemalensis and C. gayaquilensis. Crimson-crested Woodpeckers are found widely in the Neotropics east of the Andes and west of the Atlantic coast, from Panama, Venezuela, Trinidad, and the Guianas south to Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil. They inhabit a wide range of habitats, including cloud, rain, gallery, and deciduous forests, as well as fairly open woodlands and savannas. They can be found also in second growth, clearings, forest edge, semi-open country, plantations, palm groves, pastures, and in swampy areas; they are sometimes seen on single trees away from forest. They are reported to reach 900 m in Central America, up to 2000 m in the northern parts of Venezuela and to 950 m in the south, and 2500 m (or even 3100 m) in the Andes. Crimson-crested Woodpeckers are active, conspicuous, and relatively tame and are often observed in pairs or small groups foraging at heights of 6 to 25 m foraging for large wood-boring beetles, ants, and termites, as well as pyralid caterpillars, small insects, and berries.
Guayaquil Woodpecker (C. gayaquilensis). The Guayaquil Woodpecker forms a superspecies with C. guatemalensis and C. melanoleucos. This species is restricted to the western slope of the Andes and adjacent lowlands from southwestern Colombia to northwestern Peru, replacing Crimson-crested to the west of that species' range. Guayaquil Woodpeckers are found to 800 m (to 1500 m in Ecuador and Peru) in humid to dry deciduos forests, at forest edges, in tall second growth, and in mangroves. These woodpeckers are often encountered foraging in pairs for larvae of wood-boring beetles.
Cream-backed Woodpecker (C. leucopogon). The Cream-backed Woodpecker is found in central South America from north-central Bolivia and western and central Paraguay to north-central Argentina, northern Uruguay, and southeastern Brazil. Cream-backed Woodpeckers are found in the xeric (very dry) woodlands of the chaco; they occur in savannas, pastures with copses, woodland, and transitional forests up to 2500 m. These woodpeckers, which are not shy, appear to be solitary outside the breeding season. They visit tall trees, including isolated trees in open areas, and descend to forage on fallen logs, feeding on beetle larvae.
Magellanic Woodpecker (C. magellanicus). The Magellanic Woodpecker is found along the Andes of southern South America and in forested parts of adjacent southwestern Argentina, where it occurs in mature Nothofagus and Nothofagus-Cupressus forests, often with bamboo undergrowth, as well as sometimes in disturbed forest and more open woodland. It occurs from sea level to the timberline at around 2000 m. It forages singly, in pairs, or in small groups of 3 or 4 individuals, feeding on grubs and adult beetles from fallen logs to the outer twigs of the crown. Both dead and live trees (or parts of trees) are visited.
Imperial Woodpecker (C. imperialis). The Imperial Woodpecker, the world's largest woodpecker, was once widely distributed in Mexico (where it was endemic) but is now almost surely extinct, a victim of the logging industry. Imperial Woodpeckers were found in extensive stands of large pines, including many dead trees, in the oak-pine forest belt in the mountains, mainly between around 1900 m and 3050 m. Imperial Woodpeckers lived in pairs and in family groups of 3 to 5 (perhaps as many as 10?) individuals and presumably fed on large beetle larvae (e.g., cerambycids). Lammertink et al. (2011) located a film of an Imperial Woodpecker from one of the last remnant populations. Those who wish to experience the magic (and profound sadness) of observing what is likely one of the last representatives of a species driven to extinction by human greed and thoughtlessness can view this film on the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology website.
Ivory-billed Woodpecker (C. principalis). The Ivory-billed Woodpecker at one time occurred in the southeastern United States and in Cuba. The habitat in the United States consisted of heavy forests in often inaccessible hardwood and cypress swamps; originally, it was probably associated mainly with pine forests with many dead trees. In Cuba, it was known from both lowland and mountain forests. In the mountains of Cuba, the last Cuban Ivory-bills occurredi n Pinus cubensis forests. Lowland habitats were probably more diverse and included tropical hardwood and mixed pine forests. The presence of many dead trees, especially after fires, was apparently important. At least 16 square kilometers of suitable habitat were thought to be necessary to support a single pair. Analyses of mitochondrial DNA from museum specimens have suggested that Cuban Ivory-billed Woodpeckers may have been as distinct from mainland populations as Imperial and Ivory-billed Woodpeckers were from each other (Fleischer et al. 2006). Sadly, reports of persisting individuals have failed to be corroborated and some conservation biologists have argued that the resources dedicated to the unlikely rediscovery and potential recovery of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker would be better directed to other conservation efforts (e.g., Gotelli et al. 2012).
(Winkler et al. 1995 and references therein; Winkler and Christie 2002 and references therein; del Hoyo et al. 2014 and references therein)
- Brett, W.B, M.B. Robbins, and A. T. Peterson. 2006. Evolutionary history of woodpeckers and allies (Aves: Picidae): Placing key taxa on the phylogenetic tree. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 40: 389-399.
- Fleischer, R.C., J.J. Kirchman, J.P. Dumbacher, et al. 2006. Mid-Pleistocene divergence of Cuban and North American Ivory-billed Woodpeckers. Biology Letters 2: 466-469.
- Fuchs, J., J.-M. Pons, L. Liu, P.G.P. Ericson, A. Couloux, and E. Pasquet. 2013. A multi-locus phylogeny suggests an ancient hybridization event between Campephilus and melanerpine woodpeckers (Aves: Picidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 67: 578-588.
- Gotelli, N.J., A. Chao, R.K. Colwell, W.H. Hwang, and G.R. Graves. Specimen-based modeling, stopping rules, and the extinction of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. Conservation Biology 26(1): 47-56.
- Lammertink, M., T.W. Gallagher, K.V. Rosenberg, et al. 2011. Film Documentation of the Probably Extinct Imperial Woodpecker (Campephilus imperlalis). The Auk 128 (4): 671-677.
- Winkler, H. and D.A. Christie. 2002. Family Picidae (Woodpeckers). Pp. 296-555 in: del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott, and J. Sargatal. 2002. Handbook of Birds of the World, Vol. 7. Jacamars to Woodpeckers. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
- Winkler, H., D.A. Christie, and D. Nurney. 1995. Woodpeckers: An Identification Guide to the Woodpeckers of the World. Houghton Mifflin, New York.
- del Hoyo, J.; N.J. Collar; D.A. Christie, A. Elliott, and L.D.C. Fishpool. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage
Specimens with Sequences:47
Specimens with Barcodes:45
Species With Barcodes:8
This genus was created by George Robert Gray, who suggested taking Campephilus principalis as the type for the genus. The name Campephilus means "lover of grubs" - an allusion to the diet of these birds, many of which feed on the larvae of wood-boring beetles. Contrary to long-held opinion, their closest relatives are not the large black Dryocopus woodpeckers: instead, they are related to the Chrysocolaptes flamebacks from Southeast Asia (Benz et al., 2006).
- Powerful woodpecker, Campephilus pollens
- Crimson-bellied woodpecker, Campephilus haematogaster
- Red-necked woodpecker, Campephilus rubricollis
- Robust woodpecker, Campephilus robustus
- Crimson-crested woodpecker, Campephilus melanoleucos
- Guayaquil woodpecker, Campephilus gayaquilensis
- Pale-billed woodpecker, Campephilus guatemalensis
- Cream-backed woodpecker, Campephilus leucopogon
- Magellanic woodpecker, Campephilus magellanicus
- Ivory-billed woodpecker, Campephilus principalis - probably extinct (late 20th century)
- Imperial woodpecker, Campephilus imperialis - possibly extinct (late 20th century)
To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!