Part 1 -  Large Woodpecker  - Piciformes


Return to Index page Home Part 3 Pygmy Woodpeckers Part 2 Smaller "Buff" Woodpeckers

The time before I seriously started watching birds I was under the impression  that Woodpeckers are birds from the tropics. Was surprised to learned that we, in Malaysia do have our own fairly large collection too.

This bird "Woodpeckers" got their English name from the way this group of birds have the habit of pecking noisily on tree trunks. Studies later concluded that the habit was actually a means to signal possession of territory to their rivals. Other times also to ascertain the presence of larvae inside the bark or hollows within the tree trunk.

Woodpeckers also use their beaks to create large enough cavity inside the tree trunk for their nests. Such hollow space can be between1545 cm below the tiny entrance, i.e. the opening that we usually see .

Beside the uniqueness of making those loud noises, there are other peculiarities found in Woodpeckers. Ornithologist then listed Woodpeckers are "near passerine" birds of the order Piciformes. Under this grouping designated for birds having zygodactyl feet [has two toes] that are directed to the front and another two directed to the back. The design of the feet allows the bird to cling to a vertical tree trunk, quietly inching its way up. Usually creeping  round and round the trunk as it progresses up the tree. When it stops, the stiff pointed feathers at its tail is pressed spread out like a fan against the bark to provide a firm anchorage in support of its hammering action. The same legs perform very well for grasping or perching. Most species of Woodpeckers in Malaysia, indeed had 4 toes but there are those with only three toes.

The woodpecker has long tongue and ends in a barb. This tongue compliments its feeding habits that skewers the grub and draws it out of the trunk. So long that it's length could the equivalent of the body of woodpecker itself. The tongue could be controlled to dart forward if needed to arrest the prey. Now for that type of profile, this layout of the tongue could not follow the convention design as in most birds. To accommodate its length in the head, the tongue is curled up within its skull.

Woodpeckers are usually brightly colored, although the female has slightly less. Undoubtedly the special feature it has, the chisel shaped bills is characteristic . Then they have short powerful legs for anchorage. Woodpeckers are not known to be a song bird. Most use a single syllabus loud screeching call sounding like a scream, repeated 5 or 6 times  in spaced interval.

The birds are found worldwide with 215 species counted. In South-east Asia here are  42 species of which 26 "belatok" are found in Malaysia.

They really have wide variations in sizes. From the smallest Rufous Woodpecker, size of large insect to the largest Slaty Backed - the size of an Eagle.

Regular size Woodpecker


Small size Woodpeckers

Banded Woodpecker Picus miniaceus   Speckled Piculet Picumnus innominatus
Lesser Yellownape Picus chlorolophus   Rufous Piculet Sasia abnormis
Crimson-winged Woodpecker Picus puniceus   Brown-capped Woodpecker Dendrocopos moluccensis
Rufous Woodpecker Celeus brachyurus   Gray-capped Woodpecker Dendrocopos canicapillus
Banded Woodpecker Picus miniaceus      
Greater Yellownape Picus flavinucha  

Lesser Seen Woodpecker in Malaysia

Checker-throated Woodpecker Picus mentalis   White-bellied Woodpecker Dryocopus javensis
Laced Woodpecker Picus vittatus   Streak-breasted Woodpecker Picus viridanus
Common Flameback Dinopium javanense   Gray-faced Woodpecker Picus canus
Greater Flameback Chrysocolaptes lucidus   Olive-backed Woodpecker Dinopium rafflesii
Bamboo Woodpecker Gecinulus viridis   Pale-headed Woodpecker Gecinulus grantia
Bay Woodpecker Blythipicus pyrrhotis      
Orange-backed Woodpecker Reinwardtipicus validus      
Great Slaty Woodpecker Mulleripicus pulverulentus      

Slightly smaller/ Small Woodpeckers

Buff-rumped Woodpecker Meiglyptes tristis    
Buff-necked Woodpecker Meiglyptes tukki      
Gray-and-buff Woodpecker Hemicircus concretus      
Maroon Woodpecker Blythipicus rubiginosus      

Page 1 Regular size Woodpecker

I will start off with this first page with illustrations of the larger or regular size Woodpeckers. Then on the second page, the woodpeckers are buffy plus smaller in size and lastly on the third page - the smallest or the Pygmy Woodpeckers s they are called sometimes.


1. Banded Woodpecker  Picus miniaceus


 Size & diagnostic markings:- 25cm The bird size is about 25 cm long, with a lot of similarities with the Crimson-Winged Woodpecker. The color on the ear patch is critical. Male has reddish-rufous while the female has lighter color with speckles but never green. The crown, if the bird has one, it extend much further back beyond the side of the nape. To me, the most important question would be - do the bird appears dark red?

 Distribution :-  The bird is resident in the Greater Sundas. There is a good local population of this bird in Malaysia but seen less often when compared to a few Woodpeckers.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a lowland birds that prefers forest edge to parks. Some unique observation here, the bird is seen less often when compared to the Crimson-winged, but this bird is seen in places with humans presence while the Crimson-winged do visit rural garden are seen more often in deep jungles.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- So far, this bird is seen in the most unexpected places, usually in Ampang Recreation Park, Kiara Park and only one time in Awana, a sub-montane forest edge environment. It is harder to meet up with - lower population?

 My personal jottings :-

The red wing patch at the fringes of the Crimson-winged leads to mixed up with the Crimson-winged Woodpecker. Otherwise the red on the Banded  Woodpecker covers the whole wing giving the bird that deep red look. The Crimson-winged looks yellowish orange. The main diagnostic marking is its orange-reddish face of  the Banded as compared to the greenish tinged face of the Crimson-winged. That is the case for the female. At times the one with Greenish face and a red stripe below its mouth, then it is a positive ID for the male Crimson-winged.

The Banded Woodpecker on the few occasions I met them were in pair. They showed no fear of my presence and less likely to take flight when compared with other Woodpeckers. This is one Woodpecker that was not encountered so often. I would say that this is a forest Woodpecker  though also found in forest edges. Cannot say for certain where to track down the bird or where they are most likely to hang out as their food seeking pattern is not known.


Record of bird's call:-    and Video:-

 female juvenile Banded   # 1

male Banded  # 2

male Banded    #3

male Banded  # 4

female juvenile Banded  # 5

Banded Woodpecker # 6

Banded Woodpecker  # 7

Banded Woodpecker  # 8

Banded Woodpecker  # 9

Banded Woodpecker  # 10

female Banded   # 11

Banded Woodpecker   #12

Banded Woodpecker  # 16

Banded Woodpecker  # 17

Banded Woodpecker   #18

Banded Woodpecker  # 19

male Banded   # 20

Banded Woodpecker   #21

Banded Woodpecker  # 22

Banded Woodpecker  # 23

female Banded    #24

Banded Woodpecker  # 25

male Banded   # 26

 Banded  Woodpecker #27


2. Crimson-winged Woodpecker  Picus puniceus


 Size & diagnostic markings:- 27 cm. The Crimson-winged at 27 cm is larger when compared with the Banded Woodpecker. Obvious would be the Olive green on its upper part and the yellow nuchal crest. More distinctive would be the red sub-moustachial stripe appearing on the male. Then the red wings patch over the greenish body that helps to brings out the green. Notice the pale grayish-blue eye ring which is also diagnostic for this bird.

 Distribution :-  Again this is another Woodpecker from the Greater Sundas. In Malaysian forest this is the most often seen Woodpecker. The Common Flameback has that position in rural forest edge and public park.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a bird of the lowland forest edge as well as secondary forest. Commonly seen and the second most commonly seen Woodpeckers after the Common Flameback.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- In forest edge like along the Rengit Road and in Kampongs. In fact once leaving populated areas, this birds could be detected by its call and sound of pecking. Rather often and easy to spot due to its large size and behavior of not having a need to avoid human..
 My personal jottings :-

This true to the term forest edge irrespective of terrains i.e. in the lowlands and well as in the mountain. Example the bird was seen in the plantation outside a kampong and then along the forested road in Rengit. This time a stretch of road without houses and primary forest. 

Some of the pictures included in this page were taken at the Old Pump House Road, a sub-montane area. Also in the same area, the Banded was spotted. In most other places, I have seen the bird moving in pairs. They moved  at the lower as well as middle storey. This is not a shy bird and would carry on its activity even when it was under observation.

In making out the differences between the Banded and Crimson-winged, I could see that photographs are better guides when compared to drawings. Straight away, the points mentioned about the subtle differences makes sense. The difference are so obvious and not subtle. It is a matter of getting used to recognizing the diagnostic markings.. As mentioned in the notes for the Banded Woodpecker, the wings on the Crimson-wings may sometimes makes the Woodpecker appear red. In actual fact, looking at the pictures, notice that brightly red shaded portion which may be a main feature is less imposing on the overall olive green color of the bird. In the case of the Banded Woodpecker, the dark red wings blended in well with the maroon-brownish speckles on the back. Of course, the clearest  diagnostic marking is the red sub-moustachial stripe. This is so important but not helpful as the feature only appears on the male and with the bird moving about swiftly, hard to pick up unless done with after a picture was taken and studied.

Record of bird's call:-    and Video:-

Crimson-winged Woodpecker # 1

Crimson-winged Woodpecker# 2

Crimson-winged Woodpecker # 3

Juvenile male # 4

Crimson-winged Woodpecker# 5

Juvenile male # 6

Crimson-winged Woodpecker # 7

Matured & Juvenile male # 8

Crimson-winged Woodpecker # 9

female Crimson-winged  # 10

Crimson-winged Woodpecker# 11

Crimson-winged Woodpecker# 12

Crimson-winged Woodpecker # 16

Crimson-winged Woodpecker# 17

Crimson-winged Woodpecker# 18

female Crimson-winged  # 19

Crimson-winged Woodpecker# 20

female Crimson-winged # 21

Crimson-winged Woodpecker # 22

Crimson-winged Woodpecker# 23

Crimson-winged Woodpecker# 24

Crimson-winged Woodpecker # 25

Crimson-winged Woodpecker# 26

Crimson-winged Woodpecker# 27


3. Checker-throated Woodpecker  Picus mentalis


 Size & diagnostic markings:- 28 cm. A fairly large Woodpecker at 28 cm long. With the looks of Crimson-winged Woodpecker having bright red wings part and Olive-green upper part. The eye ring is less prominent. The single most important diagnostic marking would be:- 1] the chestnut colored side of neck and the breast. Then 2] the small details of the throat white with black streaks.

 Distribution :-  Also a bird of the Greater Sundas with a local population. In Malaysia, this is a bird of deep forest and not frequently encountered. Then on random meeting up easily dismissed as a Crimson-winged Woodpecker.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a bird of the deep forest and mangrove wetlands but could be found in the hills as well.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- Mainly in places with primary jungles. This is a large bird but more often seen from a distance spot. Rengit is one such destination when the chances of meeting up the bird is very good. Another place would be the forest at the Ulu Langat Waterfalls area of Terkali. Forest in Perdik and more times in Rengit.These places were quoted from my own experiences
 My personal jotting :-

I could have missed many chances of photographing this bird, the lack of knowledge then made me complacent and dismissed spending more time to look for details on this bird. So my advise, upon seeing that common "Crimson-winged" don't draw conclusion yet. Observed harder. This is the 2nd Woodpecker that I was tied up in knots.


Record of bird's call:-    and Video:-

female Woodpecker # 1

female Woodpecker# 2

Checker-throated Woodpecker # 3

female Woodpecker # 4

female Woodpecker# 5

Checker-throated Woodpecker # 6

Checker-throated Woodpecker # 7

Checker-throated Woodpecker # 8

Checker-throated Woodpecker # 9

Checker-throated Woodpecker # 10

Checker-throated Woodpecker# 11

Checker-throated Woodpecker# 12

Checker-throated Woodpecker # 13

Checker-throated Woodpecker# 14

Checker-throated Woodpecker# 15

Checker-throated Woodpecker # 16

Checker-throated Woodpecker# 17

Checker-throated Woodpecker# 18

Checker-throated Woodpecker # 19

Checker-throated Woodpecker# 20

Checker-throated Woodpecker# 21

Checker-throated Woodpecker # 22

Checker-throated Woodpecker# 23

Checker-throated Woodpecker# 24


4. Common Flameback Dinopium javanense


 Size & diagnostic markings:- 30 cm. The Common Flameback is 30 cm long. The distinctive white face with black sub-moustachial stripes. Frequently in pairs with the male having a red crown and crest and the female having black crown and white spotted crest. Since there are 2 Flamebacks in Malaysia, it is important to know these 2 species well, as they are very much alike except for the subtle differences. First by habitats,  the Lesser [Common] which is commonly seen with the Greater which is hanging around mangrove forest.

 Distribution :-  Found in lowlands south of the Himalayas in India and along a narrow belt in south China and to the Sundas. As mentioned earlier, this is the most common Woodpecker in Malaysia, confined to parks and rural forest edge.
 Habitats & preferences:- Repeat - seen in Parks and forest edges and with fair amount of human presence. But there are also a couple of forest parks next to mangrove forest. The 2 species of Flamebacks could be seen at the same vicinity though not at the same instance.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- Just wait for the calls and then the knocking sound when walking in the Park. Any park for that matter. It is that easy and frequently happening.
 My personal jotting :-

I like the name "Flameback" for this bird. Another name that is also commonly used is the "Golden-backed".  "Golden-backed" used in reference to the gold colored wings that the bird has.

Quite difficult to see, but there is a bright red streak on its back. Most of us are familiar with the bird, there is no other Woodpecker that compete in looks with this common Woodpecker of the lowland forest. More often the bird are seen in pair.  For those who are new to this bird, please call it a "Flameback". For the red streak on its back, keep a close watch on a couple pictures below.


Record of bird's call:-    and Video:-    female

Common Flameback  # 1

Common Flameback # 2

Common Flameback  # 3

Common Flameback  # 4

Common Flameback # 5

Common Flameback  # 6

Common Flameback  # 7

Common Flameback  # 8

Common Flameback # 9

Common Flameback  # 10

Common Flameback  # 11

Common Flameback # 12

Common Flameback  # 16

Common Flameback  # 17

Common Flameback  # 18

Common Flameback  # 19

Common Flameback  # 20

Common Flameback  # 21

Common Flameback  # 22

Common Flameback  # 23

Common Flameback  # 24

Common Flameback  # 25

Common Flameback  # 26

Common Flameback  # 27

Before proceeding to the next Flameback, here to compare the males from both species.


5. Greater Flameback Chrysocolaptes lucidus chersonesus


 Size & diagnostic markings:- 30 cm. First, the bird has golden color wings. Existing a couple minor details, otherwise this Greater Flameback is almost identical to the Common Flameback. Details of the differences, first the steak pattern on breast and back mentioned,  second lies in the black lores across the face. That's all. Similar, the male has a red crest while the female has a black crest. Not easy to describe but the pictures should help in understanding.

 Distribution :-  Native to places in the Indian sub-continent to south-west China and then down to the Greater Sundas and the Philippines. In Malaysia, this is a common bird in the mangrove forest
 Habitats & preferences:- As mentioned this bird is exclusively staying in the mangrove forest.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- The colony in the Matang forest was very active. Virtually sure of meeting up with them on all visits. Those in Kuala Selangor Nature were harder to come by, but chances to see them is more than good.
 My personal jotting :- 

This is a huge Woodpecker at 30 cm. The problem in identifying this Greater Flameback lies in the fact that it has all the similarities with the common Flameback. Being a larger bird don't help. The sub species we see in Malaysia is smaller than those seen elsewhere e.g Thailand. The normal species there measures 32cm. In that case, size helps as the bird is noticeably larger than the Common Flameback.  In the case of Kuala Selangor nature Park, the mangrove forest is side by side with a secondary forest and the forest edge is the habitat for the Common Flameback. Both Woodpeckers can be found in the same area and could be seen separately on the single visit.

Our Malaysia species of the Greater Flameback shows no ambiguity with its cousin, the Common Flameback. The bold black stripe across the eyes and the longer beak say all. For once the female too looks different from other females. I could see the feathers of this birds when seen at close proximity looks ruffled and the stripes very distinctive. After some getting use too, it is easy to tell the differences between the two in the field.


Record of bird's call:-    and Video:- 

Greater Flameback   # 1

Greater Flameback  # 2

Greater Flameback   #3

Greater Flameback # 4

Greater Flameback # 5

Greater Flameback # 6

Greater Flameback # 7

Greater Flameback # 8

Greater Flameback  # 9

Greater Flameback  # 10

Greater Flameback  # 11

Greater Flameback  #12

Greater Flameback# 16

Greater Flameback # 17

Greater Flameback   #18

Greater Flameback# 19

Greater Flameback  # 20

Greater Flameback   #21

Greater Flameback # 22

Greater Flameback  # 23

Greater Flameback  #24

Greater Flameback  # 25

Greater Flameback   # 26

Greater Flameback #27


6. Laced Woodpecker  Picus vittatus


 Size & diagnostic markings:- 30 cm. The size of this bird varies quite a bit from 27-33 cm, the male has smooth olive green upper part and throat, then a red crown. For this bird, the female though has all similar feature, unmarked Olive green back and lighter shade on the underpart but somewhat looks more different, having a black crown, both without crest.

 Distribution :-  This is a bird from Sumatra and Java up to Bali. It is also a resident in Malaysia, fairly common bird.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a bird of the Mangrove forest and usually seen in pairs. Inside the bush and in the lower and middle storey of Mangrove trees
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- There are not many mangrove forest left in Peninsula, but I find that it is more often seen in Selangor and hardly encountered in Port Weld area.
 My personal jotting:-

This is a large bird of the mangrove forest. In Malaysia, all the time the birds were seen, the habitats is closely related to coastal wetlands. hence it is unlikely that it would stray into gardens and plantations. The few stretches of large mangrove forests left are those in Matang and Kukup. In other parts of the coast, only a narrow belt of mangrove forest which would be measuring a couple hundreds of meters. I believe if you are there at the right season, they should be out in numbers. Breeding season is February-July, the second quarters is the best time.

Typical of all Woodpeckers, the bird would be seen moving up tree trunks. I suppose this is one way of gaining height. From the spots high up in tall places, the birds gets better choice of its next destination. They don't stay in these high spots. They very quickly descend to the choice spot. I mention this, many times now, in Air Hitam and the Kuala Selangor Nature Park, the birds were seen forging among thick foliages in the middle as well as lower storey. There are secondary jungles at the edges of mangrove forest and invariably trees there are low bushes. The Laced Woodpeckers would be flying in without calls and spending some time at eye level with you. 

For ID, remember it is coastal wetland. A Woodpecker with Olive back color and a red head. Our Malaysian species has a thick black colored sub-moustchial stripe. One that has a dull olive upper side. Then the head is lined with a black colored crown, this is the female. 


Record of bird's calls:-    and Video:-   

Laced Woodpecker # 1

Laced Woodpecker # 2

Laced Woodpecker # 3

Laced Woodpecker # 4

Laced Woodpecker # 5

Laced Woodpecker # 6

Laced Woodpecker # 7

Laced Woodpecker # 8

Laced Woodpecker # 9

Laced Woodpecker # 10

Laced Woodpecker # 11

Laced Woodpecker # 12

 Laced Woodpecker  # 16

Laced Woodpecker  # 17

Laced Woodpecker    #18

Laced Woodpecker  # 19

fLaced Woodpecker  # 20

Laced Woodpecker # 21

Laced Woodpecker   # 22

Laced Woodpecker  # 23

Laced Woodpecker    # 24

Laced Woodpecker  # 25

Laced Woodpecker  # 26

Laced Woodpecker # 27


7. Orange-backed Woodpecker  Reinwardtipicus validus


 Size & diagnostic markings:- 30 cm. This is a good size Woodpecker at 30 cm long.  The male has red crown  neck and under part. The upper part is dark brown interrupted with broad faint whitish orange stripes. The female has grayish brown on the upper part, face and neck while underpart is dull light brown. The similar broad strips on the wings also duller.

 Distribution :-  The bird is resident in the chain of islands from Sumatra down to Java and then Borneo Island. This bird is a common resident in Malaysia, may not be seen often but more frequent than many other Woodpeckers.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a lowland forest bird. Prefers dense natural forest with slopes on the hills.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- Most times I have seen this bird in forest on hill slopes. In Ampang, perdik and of course Rengit is one place that the bird was seen in many trips
 My personal jotting:-

Though this is also a lowland forest bird, it is very seldom seen. This is one Woodpecker of the deep forest. Here while writing I could recall more places I had seen them like the Agriculture Park in Shah Alam, the Kiara Hills, Ampang Recreation Park, Taman Negara and also on the road to the Gap. Though among the names I mentioned, "Parks" were among them, No! these are forest parks with pristine patches of forest where the birds prefers. Never seen  the bird in Public parks. Unlike the Common Flameback, this is is not a bird of open park or forest edge. The Orange-backed is more a bird that prefers forested area with tall trees on hill slopes.

The shape of the bird reminds me of the Great Slaty -backed Woodpecker, rounded with a long flimsy looking neck. The head and neck is out of proportion accentuated by the oversized bill. The crown is red, and with a peak crest that makes this feature, diagnostic. The name "orange-backed" comes the dull orange stripes across the upper part over the dark brown body. These stripes can also be seen at flight.

There are pictures of the female having a black crown.

Record of bird's call:-    and Video:- 
Orange-backed Woodpecker  # 1 Orange-backed Woodpecker  # 2 Orange-backed Woodpecker  # 3
Orange-backed Woodpecker  # 4 Orange-backed Woodpecker  # 5 Orange-backed Woodpecker  #  6
Orange-backed Woodpecker  # 7 Orange-backed Woodpecker  # 8 Orange-backed Woodpecker  # 9
Orange-backed Woodpecker  # 10 Orange-backed Woodpecker  # 11 Orange-backed Woodpecker  # 12
Orange-backed Woodpecker  # 16 Orange-backed Woodpecker  # 17 Orange-backed Woodpecker  # 18
Orange-backed Woodpecker  # 19 Orange-backed Woodpecker  # 20 Orange-backed Woodpecker  # 21
Orange-backed Woodpecker  # 22 Orange-backed Woodpecker  # 23 Orange-backed Woodpecker  # 24
Orange-backed Woodpecker  # 25 Orange-backed Woodpecker  # 26 Orange-backed Woodpecker  # 27


8. Rufous Woodpecker  Celeus brachyurus squamigularis


 Size & diagnostic markings:- 25 cm. Now this is smaller Woodpecker. The Rufous is another fairly common Woodpecker with a roundish look at 25 cm. Rufous brown and with short but stout black beak Fine blackish bars on the upper side and flank. Head is dull brown and could detect the reddish patch on the cheek. The large picture below is that of the female with dull colored head and no red patch but exchanged for a lighter patch.

 Distribution :-  The Indian sub-continent Sri Langka, southern China and the Greater Sundas. The bird is a resident in Malaysia and a common bird the forest edge and parks.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a lowland forest bird preferring hill slopes and could be found in sub-montane. Though record is such, so far I have no encounter one in the sub-montane area yet. Most often on hill slopes.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- I am lucky with this bird as it roosted in the Kiara Park for a long time until the tree fell off. That was many years ago but the birds continued to be seen along the slopes of the hills when I walked. Now history repeat itself, I met up with another that kept returning to the same spot each day in the hills beside Kelab Darul Ehsan in Ampang.
 My personal jotting:-

The Rufous Woodpecker is a very beautiful bird of the forest edge. In Malaysia, this Woodpecker is common in park and forest edge. There was one in the Kiara Park. Each day exactly the same time, the bird would return to the same tree and continued pecking at the same spot.

 I have read that this Woodpecker maintains a symbiotic relationships with the local black acrobat  ants, Crematogaster. It would burrow a nest within the nest and lays her eggs. The bird is not attacked for infringement nor the bird feasting on the ants' eggs. In other reports, it was mentioned that Woodpecker favorite diet was ants. Logically, it must be a trend for the bird to be having its nest within the ants domain. Also true that both the bird and the ants are co-existing peaceful. There must exist some unreported facts that goes beyond feasting.

Back in Malaysian, it is not that easy to spot a Woodpecker. Walking through pristine forest, quite often hearing them at work. But spotting one is extremely difficult. The bird at work would remain on its task for long period of time. Equally good opportunity would be the chances that the bird seen crawling along tree trunk. Best situation would those when the Woodpecker is flying across. But once landed, they have the tendency to invariably slip behind to the concealed side of the trunk. Likewise, to the bird, the human is seen nearby. A better and sure way is to listen for the call of the Woodpecker and the incessant drumming while walking around the park or forest edge. Wait for the chances.

Record of bird's call:-   and Video:- 

Rufous Woodpecker  # 1

Rufous Woodpecker  # 2

Rufous Woodpecker  # 3

Rufous Woodpecker  # 4

Rufous Woodpecker  # 5

Rufous Woodpecker  # 6

Rufous Woodpecker  # 7

Rufous Woodpecker  # 8

Rufous Woodpecker  # 9

Rufous Woodpecker  # 10

Rufous Woodpecker  # 11

Rufous Woodpecker  # 12

Rufous Woodpecker  # 16

Rufous Woodpecker  # 17

Rufous Woodpecker  # 18

Rufous Woodpecker  # 19

Rufous Woodpecker  # 20

Rufous Woodpecker  # 21

Rufous Woodpecker  # 22

Rufous Woodpecker  # 23

Rufous Woodpecker  # 24

Rufous Woodpecker  # 25

Rufous Woodpecker  # 26

Rufous Woodpecker  # 27


9. Greater Yellownape  Picus flavinucha wrayi


 Size & diagnostic markings:- 31 cm. Our Malaysian Greater Yellownape is smaller that those found in other region at only 31 cm as oppose to the regular 35 cm. Frequently seen in Frasers Hills. It clear yellow nuchal crest, dull brownish green as upper part without markings. Our bird had brownish throat instead of yellow and the rest of under part - white

 Distribution :-  This is another bird found the foothills of Himalayas in northern India, south China and then down south to Sumatra. The bird is a resident in Malaysia and easily seen in Frasers Hills.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a sub-montane forest edge bird which could be seen in higher altitude.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- So far I can say that this bird is common in Frasers Hills and not so widespread in other sub-montane or montane mountain peaks. After all we have only a couple of such environment that the car could take us to. They are Genting and Gunong Brinchang in the Cameron Highlands.
 My personal jotting:-

Yellownape, it is one of those instances where a term is used as name for a bird. Notice that the name  Woodpecker is not mentioned.

Usually measuring 33 cm, this is another above average size Woodpecker. In Frasers Hills, there is another look-alike Woodpecker - the Lesser Yellownape, P.c. rodgeri. This other woodpecker has a red crown instead of rufous color on the Greater Yellownape. Watch the primary feathers, the Greater Yellownape has reddish rufous with black bars. The Lesser Yellownape plain rufous.

Greater Yellownape is most frequently encountered, while on the contrary,  its counterpart Lesser Yellownape as chance encounter. So far I couldn't think of another Woodpecker here beside the Greater Yellownape. While there and hearing the call or drumming, you can be certain that it is this only and only bird. In Frasers Hills, the Greater Yellownape was seen on many occasions accompanied by some Lesser Racquet-tailed Drongo, when moving around in a bird wave. i.e. it is quite normal and usual that a Woodpecker would join a bird wave. All I can say is that this bird the Greater Yellownape is a bird of the forest edge, while the Lesser Yellownape prefers deep forest with heavy foliage and little human interruption.

I have also seen the bird hunting by itself, and without a mate.


Record of bird's call:-    and Video:-   
Greater Yellownape # 1 Greater Yellownape # 2 Greater Yellownape # 3
Greater Yellownape # 4 Greater Yellownape # 5 Greater Yellownape #  6
Greater Yellownape # 7 Greater Yellownape # 8 Greater Yellownape # 9
Greater Yellownape # 10 Greater Yellownape # 11 Greater Yellownape # 12
Greater Yellownape # 16 Greater Yellownape # 17 Greater Yellownape # 18
Greater Yellownape # 19 Greater Yellownape # 20 Greater Yellownape # 21
Greater Yellownape # 22 Greater Yellownape # 23 Greater Yellownape # 24
#Greater Yellownape   25 Greater Yellownape # 26 Greater Yellownape # 27


10. Lesser Yellownape  Picus chlorolophus rodgeri


 Size & diagnostic markings:- 28 cm. Marginally smaller than the Greater Yellownape at 28 cm. While the 2 Woodpeckers have many features in common, a first glance would give the impression that the Lesser Yellownape  looks like a green bird when compared to the Greater Flameback that appears more like a Yellow bird. This is because the Greater Yellownape is having a strong yellow undertone because of the yellow crest. Careful look will tell the difference by the red sub-moustachial stripe and the white sub-moustachial stripe. yes -two. Then an almost reddish crown. The dense barrings on the breast in prominent.

 Distribution :-  Found in the Indian sub-continent, Sri Langka and South China. This bird actually is hardly seen in Malaysia.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is another sub-montane bird but prefers higher altitude than that of the Greater Yellownape. The bird prefer heavily forested area and not forest edge. That's one reason that this birds is  less often seen when compared with the Greater Yellownape.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- I have little experiences with this birds as I had seen it on rare occassion in Frasers hills and the Old Pump House road.
 My personal jottings :-

The seldom seen Lesser Yellownape is somehow the bird I caught accidentally on both occasions. gave me a lasting impression and the pictures too, eventually proved that point. It appears more greenish than the Olive-green. Why I made so much comments on this point of body color as the field guide gives the impression that both birds are identical in shades. Most times when the birds were spotted, in the field, we were often given split seconds to orientate ourselves as to its possible ID and then compute the critical diagnostic sign we should be looking for to confirm in that short brief moment.  Experiences is having that niche information to assist in doing a fulfilling positive ID. Again, this bird prefers climate that is sub-montane and higher to the montane forest. That's the reason why this bird is not so common in Frasers Hills but more in Genting and Gunong Brinchang area.

Beside dwelling on the overall coloring of the bird, I think it is worthy to note the characteristic of that narrow band appearing to the edge of the wing. Greater Yellownape has a rufous band with dark brown short bars. The Lesser Yellownape has a shorter maroon red band with no barring. Interesting point that I was taught in the early days. The Greater Yellownape has 3 toes on its leg while the Lesser has 4 toes.

Only one and the same birds appears in the series of pictures below and she is a female.

Record of bird's call:-    and Video:- 

Lesser Yellownape # 1

Lesser Yellownape # 2

Lesser Yellownape # 3

Lesser Yellownape # 4

Lesser Yellownape # 5

Lesser Yellownape # 6

Lesser Yellownape # 7

Lesser Yellownape # 8

Lesser Yellownape # 9

Lesser Yellownape # 10

Lesser Yellownape # 11

Lesser Yellownape # 12

Lesser Yellownape # 13

Lesser Yellownape # 14

Lesser Yellownape # 15

Lesser Yellownape # 16

Lesser Yellownape # 17

Lesser Yellownape # 18

Lesser Yellownape # 19

Lesser Yellownape # 20

Lesser Yellownape # 21

Lesser Yellownape # 22

Lesser Yellownape # 23

Lesser Yellownape # 24

Lesser Yellownape # 25

Lesser Yellownape # 26

Lesser Yellownape # 27


11. Maroon Woodpecker  Blythipicus rubiginosus


 Size & diagnostic markings:- 24 cm. I love seeing this bird with a outstanding ivory beak A small Woodpecker at 24 cm almost the size of the Rufous and yet smaller. The description of "unmarked maroon chestnut" looks like plain maroon on the upper part and the under part also plain looks brown . The beak which is the striking part is long of pale ivory color.

 Distribution :-  The is a bird from Sumatra and Borneo Island. This is not a common bird to find but could seen at Forest edge in Malaysia.
 Habitats & preferences:- The bird prefers Bamboo clumps. A lowland bird but usually prefers Bamboo growing on heavily forested hill slopes. So I would say that this is a bird of the low hills and not sub-montane.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- The bird seen in the hills in Ulu Langat as well as those on the road to Frasers. A good place would be The Gap
 My personal jotting:-

Though a bird native to Malaysia, the bird is not often sighted. In fact the few occasions I met the bird at the Gap and Perdik by chance. Not enough experience with the bird to pass on in this page. The images shown below with that of my collection of female Maroon Woodpecker.

Then further down are pictures of the male bird feeding the chicks. Unfortunately, lightings was hostile even though I was very close by to the nest.


Record of bird's call:-    and Video:-   

Maroon  Woodpecker # 1

Maroon  Woodpecker # 2

Maroon  Woodpecker # 3

Maroon  Woodpecker # 4

Maroon  Woodpecker # 5

Maroon  Woodpecker # 6

Maroon  Woodpecker # 7

Maroon  Woodpecker # 8

Maroon  Woodpecker # 9

Maroon  Woodpecker # 10

Maroon  Woodpecker #11

Maroon  Woodpecker # 12

Maroon  Woodpecker # 16

Maroon  Woodpecker # 17

Maroon  Woodpecker # 18

Maroon  Woodpecker # 19

Maroon  Woodpecker # 20

Maroon  Woodpecker# 21

Maroon  Woodpecker # 22

Maroon  Woodpecker # 23

Maroon  Woodpecker # 24

Maroon  Woodpecker # 25

Maroon  Woodpecker # 26

Maroon  Woodpecker# 27


12. Great Slaty Woodpecker Mulleripicus p. pulverulentus


 Size & diagnostic markings:- 50 cm. This bird has the size of an Eagle at 50 cm long. Very slim accentuated by the long neck. The bird is almost grey and our own Malaysian species has even darker shade. Highlighting the pale colored buff throat, red sub-moustachial strip. The other feature would be the speckled forehead and neck .

 Distribution :-  Bird of the north-eastern India which also South western China and the Greater Sundas. This bird is also resident in Malaysia. understanding the size and requirement of this large bird, it is now confined to areas of pristine forest.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a lowland bird which requires deep forest with gigantic trees. Such environment are harder to find as most large and tall timber trees of good commercial value are heavily sort after.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- The last place that I know of, was Rengit. It is still being seen but less often. My last encounter was the Agriculture Park in Shah Alam and Merapoh, of course.
 My personal jotting:-

From the smallest Woodpecker, I have listed the largest of them all - the Great Slaty Woodpecker. At 50 cm, this is indeed a large bird. If the bird is present in the area, the calls is heard and easy to trace its whereabouts. As it is high up the bird don't feel threatened. and would not make any hasty get away.

So far only the area of Rengit still have that type of habitat and so were the pictures on this page taken. Its presence is detected by the extremely loud drumming sound plus its familiar calls.

Record of bird's call:-    and Video:- 


Great Slaty Woodpecker # 1

Great Slaty Woodpecker 2

Great Slaty Woodpecker # 3

Great Slaty Woodpecker # 4

Great Slaty Woodpecker # 5

Great Slaty Woodpecker # 6

Great Slaty Woodpecker # 7

Great Slaty Woodpecker # 8

Great Slaty Woodpecker # 9

Great Slaty Woodpecker # 10

Great Slaty Woodpecker # 11

Great Slaty Woodpecker # 12

Great Slaty Woodpecker # 13

Great Slaty Woodpecker # 14

Great Slaty Woodpecker # 15


I repeat, I love Woodpeckers! There is a long list of Woodpeckers but so far I am still some way from meeting my target. In writing and using terms like chestnut and rufous to describe the colors may take some time for new comers to get accustomed with. Then these colored hues applied on the birds stretching from the head to the rump etc. In real life, the maturity of the birds, male and female have the shades varied further. This in return bring in more data to be digested and noted. Then the birds themselves when seen from varying angle and under different shades of lightings, the diagnostic varies, experienced birds could grasp a few main feature to lock on the ID. For unsure new comers, unsure all the way, the signs picked up creating more doubts than answers. The series of pictures on this page have illustrations on these variances. I feel that seeing more pictures can bring the doubts to a higher level but also forced us to slowly realize that the many facts given to us are not straight forward. So use the many birds pictures here to do self analysis in the comfort of home. Understand the ambiguity of interpretations made by others, how it is suppose to mean. Lock into the diagnostic signs as given by people who are more experienced in this field.

Back to Birds itself. Woodpeckers are birds that do give hint or clues of their whereabouts. Through their slamming against the tree branches and their calls. But they also are spending tremendously long time at one particular spot. So one frustration, more often than not, that particular spot where the bird is, hidden away from my view. The sounds transmitted would not help very much until and unless the bird takes a break. Alter its perch to one within our sight. At last the bird would invariably  would. Once out in the open, I am sure the Woodpecker were actually near - like within a 100 feet distance away. But all the while cleverly hidden from view. But sadly, it would also be the time that  it had finished its chore and made that brief appearance. Flying off for some reasons.

There are just 3 more Woodpeckers that I need to get pictures of. They are the White-Bellied, Bay and the Bamboo Woodpeckers. Other than the White-bellied Woodpecker, I had taken pictures of the other two. Low quality "insurance" shots that are nothing to talk about. The day will come, let's wait.

This page somehow is meeting with technical problem, simply too long. Does not not open well. I have transferred some materials over to 2 other pages to lessen the load, still the problem persisted.