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Cardinal Woodpecker - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by max1
Western Cape, South Africa, November, 2019
Dendropicos fuscescens

Chloropicus fuscescens


14–16 cm (5½-6¼ in)

  • White underparts, streaked black
  • Tawny rump
  • Dull olive back with white spots
  • White throat and face
  • Black malar stripe
  • Brown forecrown.

Male - red hind crown and nape
Female - dark hindcrown, black nape
Juvenile - red hindcrown and black nape


Photo © by Mark Fisher
Magaliesburg, South Africa, June 2005

Sub-Saharan Africa
Western Africa: Mauritania, Senegambia, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Mali, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, DRC and Angola
Eastern Africa: South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi
Southern Africa: Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal, Lesotho and eSwatini


Some authorities place this species in Chloropicus.


Photo © by James Kashangakii
Thika, Kenya, December 2018

Dendropicos fuscescens has nine subspecies[1]:

An additional subspecies xylobates is generally considered invalid[2].


Diverse found in savannah, broadleafed woodland, thick forests, dry thornveld and gardens.



Their diet consists of insects and their larvae, particularly beetles. Also grasshoppers, caterpillars and termites with the addition of some fruit.


They nest in a tree hole lined with wood chippings. Their clutch contains 1-3 eggs which are incubated for 12-13 days by both adults. parasitised by Scaly-throated Honeyguide and Lesser Honeyguide.


Call - high-pitched krrrek-krrrek-krrrek.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Avibase
  3. Hockey, PAR, WRJ Dean, and PG Ryan, eds. 2005. Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa. 7th ed. Cape Town: John Voelcker Bird Book Fund. ISBN 978-0620340533
  4. Winkler, H. & Christie, D.A. (2020). Cardinal Woodpecker (Dendropicos fuscescens). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/56197 on 3 March 2020)

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.1