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Species Guide

Grey-crowned Woodpecker

Colaptes auricularis

The Grey-crowned Woodpecker, Colaptes auricularis, is a bird of modest size, measuring between 19.5 to 21 cm in length and weighing approximately 65 grams. It is adorned with a plumage that is primarily pale olive to olive green on the upperparts, with the rump and uppertail coverts displaying bars of pale yellow or yellowish white. The wings are a more vibrant olive green compared to the back, and the tail is pale yellowish olive green with dusky tips on the central feathers. The underparts are a soft yellowish white or pale yellowish, marked with irregular olive bars. The bill is a dark gray, the iris brown, and the legs gray.

Identification Tips

Males can be distinguished by their light gray crown and nape, with a wide red stripe below the brownish buff on their face. Females lack the red facial markings. Both sexes have a dull white chin and upper throat with dull grayish bars. Juveniles resemble adult females but have less distinct barring on the underparts, and the male juveniles have a red facial stripe mixed with gray.


This species is found in the interior and edges of semi-humid and humid forests, and locally in pine-oak forests.


Endemic to western Mexico, the Grey-crowned Woodpecker's range extends from southern Sonora and Chihuahua to southern Oaxaca.


The Grey-crowned Woodpecker is a permanent resident throughout its range, foraging from the forest floor to the canopy. It is not fully understood, but its diet includes termites, other invertebrates, and berries.

Song & Calls

The presumed song of this woodpecker is a rapid, shrill, churring rattle. It also emits a sharp, slightly explosive "kea'ah" and a gruff mewing "growh". Its drumming is characterized as short and rapid.


The breeding season is not fully determined but includes at least March and April. Further details of its breeding biology remain unknown.

Similar Species

The Grey-crowned Woodpecker is similar to the Golden-olive Woodpecker (C. rubiginosus) and was once considered a subspecies of it. Some authors have treated the two as a superspecies.

Diet and Feeding

While the full details of its diet are not known, it is known to consume termites, other invertebrates, and berries.

Conservation status

The IUCN has classified the Grey-crowned Woodpecker as Least Concern, with a large range and an estimated population of at least 20,000 mature individuals. However, the population is believed to be decreasing. The primary threat to this species is habitat loss due to agriculture, wood harvesting, and livestock grazing.

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Grey-crowned Woodpeckers on Birda

A map showing the sighting location
James Leone
25 Mar 2024 - 10:43pm

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