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Species Guide

Red-rumped Woodpecker

Veniliornis kirkii

The Red-rumped Woodpecker, scientifically known as Veniliornis kirkii, is a modestly sized bird, measuring approximately 15 to 16 cm in length and weighing between 30 to 42 grams. It is adorned with a distinctive crimson-red rump and uppertail coverts, which contrast with its predominantly golden olive-brown upperparts. The plumage is further accented with yellow and red feather tips.

Identification Tips

Males can be distinguished by their red crown and nape, while females exhibit a dark brown crown with a hint of green. Both sexes share olive-brown faces with whitish streaks and barred underparts of dark brown and whitish, the latter being more pronounced on the belly. Their eyes range from dark brown to red-brown, and they possess a blackish beak with a paler lower mandible.


This species thrives in a variety of open lowland and foothill environments, including wet and secondary forests, mangrove edges, gallery forests, dry scrublands, deciduous forests, savannas with scattered trees, and even coconut plantations.


The Red-rumped Woodpecker is found from Costa Rica southward to Peru and eastward to Brazil, Guyana, Trinidad, and Tobago. It is a year-round resident, adapting to elevations up to 1,750 meters in the tepui region.


Typically foraging alone, in pairs, or small groups, this woodpecker can be seen from the mid-level of forests to the canopy, pecking and hammering on branches and trunks. It may also join mixed-species feeding flocks.

Song & Calls

Its vocal repertoire includes a series of nasal calls, "kénh kenh kenh kenh," as well as nasal "keer," mewing "wih" or "kwee," and a repeated "kee-yik kee-yik." Its drumming is characterized as rapid, noisy, and often prolonged.


Breeding seasons vary geographically, with nesting occurring in living trees or palms. The clutch typically consists of two or three eggs, though details on incubation and fledging are not well documented.

Diet and Feeding

The diet is primarily composed of adult and larval wood-boring beetles and other insects, which are hunted through pecking and steady hammering.

Conservation status

The IUCN has classified the Red-rumped Woodpecker as Least Concern, with an estimated population of over half a million mature individuals. Though the population is believed to be decreasing, no immediate threats have been identified, and the species is present in several protected areas.

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Red-rumped Woodpeckers on Birda

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Profile picture for Jaider Carrillo
Jaider Carrillo
06 Mar 2024 - 11:47am

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