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Species Guide
A photo of a Bennett's Woodpecker (Campethera bennettii), male
Bennett's Woodpecker, Male

Bennett's Woodpecker

Campethera bennettii

The Bennett's woodpecker, a species of bird in the Picidae family, is a striking figure in the woodlands and bushes of Africa. This bird, approximately 24 cm in length and weighing between 61 to 84 grams, is adorned with a palette of colors that include brown, yellow, white, and pale yellow. The male is particularly distinctive with its red forehead, crown, and nape, while the female sports a black forehead with white spots and brown or blackish-brown ear coverts and throat.

Identification Tips

To identify the Bennett's woodpecker, look for the male's vibrant red head and the female's spotted black forehead. Both sexes have red eyes, a grey beak, and legs that are either bluish-green or grey-green. The underparts are pale yellow with dark spots on the breast and flanks. Juveniles have a black forehead and crown with darker upperparts. The subspecies C. b. capricorni is slightly larger with deeper colored underparts and fewer spots.


Bennett's woodpecker favors woodlands and bushes, including miombo, Baikiaea, Acacia, and mopane woodlands, which provide ample foraging opportunities and nesting sites.


This woodpecker has a patchy distribution across Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eswatini, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.


Bennett's woodpecker can be observed singly, in pairs, or in family groups. It is known to forage primarily on the ground, in areas either bare or with short grass, and also within the branches of trees.

Song & Calls

The vocal repertoire of this species includes "chuur" notes, a series of "wi-wi-wi-wi," "kee-kee-kee," or "ddrahh, ddrahh, ddray-ay, ddray-ay," and a chattering "wirrit-wirrit."


Breeding season for Bennett's woodpecker spans from August to February. They either excavate new holes or reuse old ones in trees for nesting. A clutch typically consists of three eggs, which are incubated for a period of 15 to 18 days.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of Bennett's woodpecker is predominantly composed of ants and termites, including their eggs, which it skillfully extracts from the ground or tree bark.

Conservation status

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has assessed Bennett's woodpecker as a species of least concern, with a stable population and no significant threats identified.

Bennett's Woodpecker Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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Bennett's Woodpeckers on Birda


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