The ground woodpecker (Geocolaptes olivaceus) is one of only three ground-dwelling woodpeckers in the world (the others are the Andean and campo flickers). It inhabits rather barren, steep, boulder-strewn slopes in relatively cool hilly and mountainous areas of South Africa, Lesotho and Eswatini and has yet to be recorded outside of Southern Africa. It is found in a broad swath running from southwest to northeast, from the Cape Peninsula and Namaqualand to Mpumalanga. It is closely related to the woodpeckers of the genus Campethera, some of which also employ terrestrial foraging strategies.
The ground woodpecker is probably the largest woodpecker in Africa, measuring 22 to 30 cm in length. The upper parts are greyish-brown with pale spotting, and the rump is red and more visible in flight. The upper sides of wings and tail are brown barred with white. The underparts are buff, flushed with pink or red. The underside of the tail is pale brown, barred with paler colour. The beak is black, long and slender, the irises pink or yellow and the legs grey. Males and females are broadly similar, but the female has slightly less red and pink than the male. The juvenile is similar to the female.