Sunday, January 31, 2010

Powerful Woodpecker - Tapichalaca, Ecuador

Originally posted 9/26/11 - backdated to organize posts by topic.

This image of a male Powerful Woodpecker displays its feature very well. It has a black bill, face black with white stripe, and a red crown. Females lack any red, having entire forehead to hindneck black. Endemic to northwestern South America, this species favors an especially beautiful environment - wet montane and cloud forest, often on steep slopes, at elevations of 4,000 to 12,000 feet in the Andes mountains.

Reference: Short, L. L. 1982:432-433. Woodpeckers of the World. Delaware Museum of Natural History, Greenville, Delaware.

Photo posted here under Creative Commons license.

Powerful Woodpecker - Up Close!

Originally posted 5/14/11 - backdated to organize posts by topic.

Powerful Woodpecker, originally uploaded by telembi.

Enjoy this fantastic close-up photo of a female Powerful Woodpecker taken in Colombia by Juan Carlos L. This bird lives in the Andes mountains, from Central Colombia to Peru.  Notice the "v" shape the white lines make on the back, a pattern shared by several members of the genus.  Male birds have a red forehead and crest.  The photo is posted here with permission.

Hear the call of the Powerful Woodpecker here:

Powerful Woodpeckers


  • Recorded 2 November 2008
  • Location Bellavista Lodge, Tandayapa Valley, Pichincha Province, Ecuador
  • Duration 28 sec
A pair in a tree, then the male hammering on the trunk.

Mégapic de Gray, the Powerful Woodpecker

Originally posted 6/17/10 - backdated to organize posts by topic.


The illustration above is Plate V. from Alfred Mahlerbe's Monographie des Picidées. It depicts a family group consisting of a male Powerful Woodpecker in left, foreground, a female in the background and a male juvenile bird.


Here is a nice sample of this bird's commonest call, pee-yáw, pee-yáw!:


Like several others in the Campephilus genus, the Powerful Woodpecker utilizes a loud double rap for signaling purposes. Here's an example:


And finally, here is an excerpt listing various names for the Powerful Woodpecker from the 1868 publication entitled List of the Specimens of Birds in the Collection of the British Museum by George Robert Gray, creator of the Campephilus genus, et al.  It is available here at Google books. 


The bird image above is within the public domain and it appears here courtesy of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University in the City of New York.

Powerful Woodpecker


  • Recorded 1 February 2008
  • Location Tandayapa Lodge, Tandayapa Valley, Pichincha Province, Ecuador (ssp pollens).
  • Duration 30 secs
A female clinging to a trunk at dusk.   Watch her blink!

Powerful Woodpecker


powerful woodpecker, originally uploaded by jj birder.
Many thanks to John Jackson (jj birder) on Flickr for sharing this striking photo of a male Powerful Woodpecker here. The photo is posted here with his permission.

Nesting Biology of the Powerful Woodpecker

Photo by J. Simbaña

The Powerful Woodpecker was named long ago, in 1845 by Charles Lucien Bonaparte, a French naturalist and ornithologist who was the nephew of famed Emperor Napoleon.

These 165 years later, very little is known about the breeding biology of this bird, an uncommon resident of montane regions from Venezuela to Peru (according to the article cited herein). The remarkable photos you see here are two of several within an article entitled First description of the eggs and nestlings of Powerful Woodpecker (Campephilus pollens) by Harold F. Greeney, Jose Simbaña & Lucia A. Salazar-V., and published February 26, 2010 in Boletín SAO in which the authors state:

Here we present the first observations, from north-eastern Ecuador, 
on the eggs and nestlings of this poorly known species.

The full-text article, including its amazing photos, is freely available online under Creative Commons license.  The two photos here were taken by J. Simbaña and are posted here with permission.


Photo by J. Simbaña

Powerful Woodpecker Climbing Up Tree Trunk

Originally posted 6/2/13 - backdated to organize posts by topic.


Here is a fantastic, high quality video of a male Powerful Woodpecker climbing up a tree trunk. The video was captured by Wim ten Have in Carpish Pass, Huánuco Department, Peru on October 29, 2012.

Powerful Woodpecker

Many thanks to Joel N. Rosenthal for granting permission to post this photo of a female Powerful Woodpecker.

Powerful Woodpecker


Powerful Woodpecker, originally uploaded by Jim Scarff.
An excellent photograph of a male Powerful Woodpecker, posted with thanks to Jim Scharff of Flickr.

Powerful Woodpecker


powerful woodpecker, originally uploaded by WLA.

Many thanks to WLA on Flickr for sharing this photo of a juvenile male Powerful Woodpecker, who also offers this interesting info:

"The bird in question was a pet in an indigenous village. Its pretty young and the sole survivor of a brood of three birds."

This photo displays the classic arrangement of toes in Campephilus woodpeckers.  It is not the zygodactly arrangement typical of so many other woodpeckers, of two pairs of toes arranged opposite each other, pointing top and bottom.  Rather, the third toe of the bird is elongated and extended horizontally to brace the large bird against a tree trunk, as a person on a very narrow cliff face might extend each arm to brace him or herself against the cliff.


Consider this when you see in illustrations of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers and other Campephilus species because the illustrators too often go with the incorrect zygodactyl toe arrangement that's typical of many other woodpeckers, but not those in the Campephilus genus.

Powerful Woodpecker

Many thanks to Diego Calderon of http://www.colombiabirding.com for sharing his photo of a female Powerful Woodpecker taken in Guasca, E. Andes with us. The photo is used here with his permission.

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