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Species Guide

White-barred Piculet

Picumnus cirratus

The White-barred Piculet, Picumnus cirratus, is a diminutive member of the woodpecker family, Picidae. This species exhibits a modest length of approximately 10 cm and a weight range between 6.3 to 12 grams. The male is distinguished by a black cap adorned with a red frontal patch and white speckles, while the female lacks the red and juveniles are generally duller with less distinct markings.

Identification Tips

Adult males of the nominate subspecies, P. c. cirratus, can be identified by their black cap with a red patch and white spots. Their face is dark buff-brown with faint blackish bars and a white stripe behind the eye. The upperparts are a dull brownish hue, sometimes with faint darker bars. The tail is dark brown with white patches near the end on the outer feathers. The underparts are white with black barring and a buff tinge on the belly and flanks. Females are similar but lack the red on the forehead.


The White-barred Piculet inhabits a variety of landscapes, including wet and dry woodlands, forest edges, thickets, gallery forests in savannahs, scrub, bamboo clumps, várzea, and overgrown parks and gardens. It can be found from sea level to elevations of about 2,100 meters.


This species is found across a broad range in South America, with populations in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Its distribution is characterized by two widely separated ranges, with six recognized subspecies occupying distinct geographical areas.


The White-barred Piculet is known to be a year-round resident within its range. It typically forages alone but may occasionally join small mixed-species flocks. It is an active feeder, drilling into wood to extract insects and their larvae, particularly favoring wood-boring beetles, and may also consume sap.

Song & Calls

The primary vocalization of the White-barred Piculet is a high-pitched, dry, fast trill, reminiscent of 'trrrrriut'. Additional calls include 'tsirit' and 'tsick', and its drumming on dead wood produces a loud staccato sound.


Breeding seasons vary with subspecies, with northern populations breeding from July to December and southern ones from September to March. Both sexes participate in excavating a nest hole, often in slender tree branches. Clutch sizes range from two to four eggs, with both sexes sharing incubation duties. However, the incubation period and fledging time remain undocumented.

Similar Species

The White-barred Piculet can be confused with other piculet species, especially where their ranges overlap and hybridization occurs. Notable similar species include the Ochre-collared Piculet and the Ocellated Piculet.

Diet and Feeding

The diet consists primarily of ants, insect larvae and eggs, and other small invertebrates. The White-barred Piculet actively drills holes in wood to access its prey and may also feed on sap.

Conservation Status

The IUCN has classified the White-barred Piculet as Least Concern due to its extremely large range and presence in several protected areas. Although the population size is unknown and suspected to be decreasing, it does not meet the thresholds for a more critical rating. However, it faces local threats from the deterioration of forest habitats due to urban expansion.

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