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Chestnut Woodpecker - BirdForum Opus

Nominate subspecies
Photo by Anselmo d Affonseca
Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil, October 2014
Celeus elegans


26-32 cm (10¼-12½ in)

  • Chestnut brown
  • Yellow rump and flanks
  • Brown wings
  • Black tips to the primaries
  • Black tail
  • Yellow white bill
  • Yellowish crest (on the species from Trinidad)

Male - red malar stripe

Subspecies citreopygius
Photo by Steve Blain
Cuyabeno Reserve, Ecuador, February 2005


A resident bird breeding in South America from Trinidad, Colombia, Venezuela and the Guianas south to Ecuador, Bolivia and northern Brazil.



Six different subspecies share the range given above[1].

This species can be divided into two main groups: First are the North-Eastern races with contrasting yellowish-buff crest and a rather bright overall plumage. The second are the Western and Southern races which are darker overall and with a crest that is concolour with the remaining head (i.e. no contrasting yellow-buff crest).

If placing illustrations of all the races on their specific distributions on a map, one would notice that it to some extent appeared like a cline, with the darkest and dullest in the South-Western part of its range (citreopygius being the extreme). The further north-east you'd get, the paler and brighter the races become, with the extreme being race leotaudi from Trinidad. In other words; the Trinidad race is brighter and paler than all other races, but if compared to the nearest race the difference is quite small, and it would be difficult to see for anyone without extensive experience in both taxa. However, if the Trinidad race was compared to the taxa from the opposite end of the cline the difference is striking and one could easily be misled into thinking they were different species.

  • C. e. leotaudi :
  • C. e. hellmayri:
  • C. e. deltanus:
  • C. e. elegans:
  • C. e. jumanus:
  • C. e. citreopygius:


Subspecies leotaudi
Photo by Gallus
Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, March 2005

They make use of a variety of forests from dense to light woodland, including terra firme nad gallery forests.



The nest chamber is a hole in a dead tree, the floor may be up to 30 cm below the entrance. The clutch consists of three white eggs.


Mainly feeds low to medium in trees and bushes on insects, including termites, and some fruit such as mangos and berries. They will visit garden feeders.


Call: a harsh parrot-like squawk whEEjer, and har... ha har
Both sexes drum.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2016. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2016, with updates to August 2016. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved November 2016)
  3. Wikipedia

Recommended Citation

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