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Species Guide
A photo of a Golden-tailed Woodpecker (Campethera abingoni), male
Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Male

Golden-tailed Woodpecker

Campethera abingoni

The Golden-tailed Woodpecker, known scientifically as Campethera abingoni, is a bird that captures the eye with its barred, greenish upper part plumage and streaked underparts. The golden-olive tail, while not markedly different from related species, adds a touch of elegance to its appearance. This bird measures between 20 to 21 centimeters from bill to tail tip, with the southern races being slightly heavier at around 70 grams compared to the northern race's 55 grams. Males are generally larger and heavier than females.

Identification Tips

To distinguish between the sexes, one must look to the head markings. Males boast red and brown fore-crowns, while females display black with white spots. The malar stripes also differ, with males showing red and females a mottled black and white pattern. The iris of this species is typically dark red, though it can vary, and the mandibles are slate grey. The legs and feet are a greenish-olive hue. Juveniles can be identified by their heavy streaking on the throat and breast, barred bellies, mottled malar stripes, and a brown to brownish-grey iris.


The Golden-tailed Woodpecker is found in a variety of woodland habitats, including coastal forest, miombo, mopane, and acacia woodlands. It has a particular fondness for riparian woodland, especially in the drier regions of southern Africa. This bird tends to forage intensively in the lower to middle strata of trees within its territory, which can span 10 to 15 hectares.


This species is quite widespread in woodlands and forests south of the equator and is more localized to the north. Its range extends across numerous African countries, from Angola to Zimbabwe, including regions such as the Ivory Coast, Kenya, and South Africa.


The Golden-tailed Woodpecker is known for establishing large territories and may travel some distance between foraging sites. It is a solitary bird, often seen probing and gleaning for food.

Song & Calls

The bird's vocal repertoire includes a single, strident call-note, often described as "waaa" or "weeea," typically emitted by the male. It also produces a long-range, repeated "yaooaak-yaaaaaak" call and is known to drum softly.


Breeding occurs in the early summer, with both sexes participating in the excavation of the nest, usually on the underside of a branch. They lay two to three glossy white eggs, which are incubated by both parents, with the male taking the night shift. The incubation period lasts about 13 days, and the chicks, fed regurgitated food, fledge after 22 to 25 days. Their nests are sometimes parasitized by various species of honeyguide.

Similar Species

The Mombasa Woodpecker, with its yellower plumage below and brighter golden-green upper parts, is a similar species. Other woodpeckers like the Cardinal, Bennett's, Reichenow's, and Nubian are browner above and more clearly barred, with only the Cardinal Woodpecker also displaying streaking below.

Diet and Feeding

The Golden-tailed Woodpecker primarily feeds on arboreal ants and termites, but it also consumes millipedes, wood-boring larvae, and leaf-feeding moth larvae. It is often seen alongside the Cardinal Woodpecker, which tends to exploit thinner branches.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List classifies the Golden-tailed Woodpecker as Least Concern, indicating that it currently faces no significant threats to its survival.

Golden-tailed Woodpecker Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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Golden-tailed Woodpecker Fun Facts

Did you know?
Only male Golden-tailed Woodpeckers incubate the nest during the night.

Golden-tailed Woodpeckers on Birda


More Woodpeckers

A photo of a Bay Woodpecker (Blythipicus pyrrhotis) , male

Bay Woodpecker

Blythipicus pyrrhotis
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