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Lineated Woodpecker - BirdForum Opus

Male, subspecies D. l. similis showing pale bill
Photo © by Joseph Morlan
Lamanai Archaeological Reserve, Orange Walk District, Belize, 29 January 2011
Dryocopus lineatus

Hylatomus lineatus


Female, subspecies D. l. lineatus
Photo © by Glen Tepke
Pipeline Road, Soberania National Park, Panama, 19 January 2004

30–36 cm (11¾-14¼ in)
Black upperparts, with a white stripe on the scapulars. The head is mostly black with a white stripe from the base of the bill continuing below the eye (this section missing in some subspecies), and down the side of the neck, a red malar stripe, and red on crown, crest and nape. On the underside, the throat is patterned black and white, breast is black, but abdomen is barred in black and either whitish or buff.
Female is missing the malar stripe and has a larger black area on the forehead.


Male, Subspecies lineatus
Photo © by NJ Larsen
PN (National Park) Tayrona, Magdalena, Colombia, 1 September 2023

The ochraceous tinge to the usually white moustachial and neck striping is a well-known feature on some birds of the erythrops race. Interestingly, this colour variation is also present in the similis race found in Costa Rica and north into Mexico. The belly carries a similar colouration. It was not long ago scientists were using this colour morph as a supporting feature in the proposal to elevate erythrops to full species status.[4]

Similar Species

Male, subspecies D. l. erythrops lacking white scapular line
Photo © by Celso Paris
Sorocaba, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 16 October 2016

Male Crimson-crested Woodpecker has head almost entirely red with only a white spot on the side. Female Crimson-crested is has a broader white facial stripe and its white scapular stripes converge on its lower back forming a "V." Both sexes of Crimson-crested Woodpecker have a solid black throat while Lineated has a white throa, with black streaks. Guayaquil Woodpecker differs similarly as Crimson-crested.


Western Mexico, Central America, South America, Argentina and Trinidad.



  • D. l. scapularis: Reduced white facial stripe, pale bill.
  • West Mexico (southern Sonora to Oaxaca)
  • D. l. similis: Pale bill, buffy underparts.
  • East Mexico (Tamaulipas) to north-western Costa Rica
  • D. l. lineatus: Bill dark.
  • D. l. fuscipennis: Smaller and browner than nominate.
  • Arid littoral of western Ecuador and north-western Peru
  • D. l. erythrops: White scapular lines missing or reduced.
  • South East Brazil to eastern Paraguay and north-eastern Argentina


Forest, primarily edges and second-growth, but also other more open habitats.



Clutch usually 2-4 eggs in cavity nests, excavated in dead trees by both parents.


Forages both low and high in trees for insects such as beetles, wood-boring larvae and ants by hammering deep into trunks. They also eat fruit and seeds.


The sustained, laughing call is a common sound in many areas. It ascends until abruptly descending towards the end. Additional calls include an extended series of loud, far-carrying "wic-wic-wic" that becomes a more intense "wuk wuk wuk" near the end. Sputter call also given occasionally. Pairs communicate by intense drumming.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved November 2018)
  3. BF Member observations
  4. Chris Holtby
  5. Malekan, I. S. (2011). Lineated Woodpecker (Dryocopus lineatus), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.linwoo1.01

Recommended Citation

External Links

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