Grey-capped (pygmy) woodpecker

   ›      ›   Grey-capped (pygmy) woodpecker - Picoides canicapillus

The grey-capped woodpecker (Picoides canicapillus) belongs to the family of piculets and woodpeckers, the Picidae.

The grey-capped woodpecker species is distributed in Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia, China, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan and Russia. These woodpecker species are very small birds with white and black barring. These woodpeckers are polytypic species.
Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Grey-capped Woodpecker Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Appearance, physical description and identification

The grey-capped woodpecker (Picoides canicapillus) is a small pigmy woodpecker, measuring 14 to 16 cm in length and weighing 20 to 30 grams.

The adult grey-capped woodpecker has black upperparts with white barring. The crown and the forehead are grayish. The sides of the crown is black. There are broad white supercilia. The cheek has whitish patch. There are black eye stripes.

The grey-capped woodpecker underparts are buff or dirty white with prominent dark streaking. The males have a red patch behind the crown. The bill is grayish. The irises are dark. The feet are gray. Their call is a short "chip..chip" sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Grey-capped pygmy woodpecker - Picoides canicapillus
1.Birds of India - Image of Grey-capped pygmy woodpecker - Picoides canicapillus by Dr. Raju Kasambe


Birds of India - Photo of Grey-capped pygmy woodpecker - Picoides canicapillus
2.Indian birds - Picture of Grey-capped pygmy woodpecker - Picoides canicapillus by Ron Knight

Indian birds - Image of Grey-capped pygmy woodpecker - Picoides canicapillus
3.Birds of India - Photo of Grey-capped pygmy woodpecker - Picoides canicapillus by David Cook

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The grey-capped woodpecker species are distributed in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, southeast Asia, China, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan and Russia.

In India, these woodpecker species are distributed in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram.

The grey-capped woodpecker nominate subspecies P. c. canicapillus is distributed in Bangladesh, central and northeast India (eastern Assam), central and southern Myanmar, Thailand and Laos. The subspecies P. c. aurantiiventris is found in Borneo (Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia).

The grey-capped woodpecker subspecies P. c. volzi is distributed in Indonesia (Riau, Sumatra and Nias Islands. The subspecies P. c. auritus is distributed in southern Thailand and peninsular Malaysia. The subspecies P. c. delacouri is found in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

The grey-capped woodpecker subspecies P. c. semicoronatus is distributed in Nepal and Assam (India). The subspecies P. c. mitchellii is distributed in northern Pakistan and northern India. The subspecies P. c. swinhoei is distributed in Hainan (China).

The grey-capped woodpecker subspecies P. c. kaleensis is distributed in south and southeast China, Taiwan and northern parts of Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam. The subspecies P. c. scintilliceps is found in central and eastern China. The woodpecker subspecies P. c. doerriesi is distributed in eastern Russia, Koreas and northeast China.

Ecosystem and habitat

These grey-capped woodpecker species have moderate forest dependence. They normally occur in altitudes from 0 to 2800 meters. The artificial ecosystems and habitats of these species include, rural gardens and plantations.

The natural ecosystems and habitats of these grey-capped woodpecker species include, tropical and subtropical moist montane forests, tropical and subtropical moist lowland forests, evergreen forests, dry shrublands and moist deciduous forests.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these grey-capped woodpeckers consists mainly of insects. Caterpillars, cicadas, grasshoppers, bugs, leafhoppers, small beetles, insect larvae and pupae, flies, ants, termites are their primary food. Occasionally they feed on fruits, seeds and plant matter.

These grey-capped pygmy woodpecker species excavate holes and probe into crevices in the wood and bark for their prey. They also glean prey from leaves and twigs. They also feed from ant nests and termite mounds.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of the grey-capped woodpecker species is from April to July in Indian subcontinent. In southeast Asia the breeding season is from December to April. The nests are excavated in trees. These birds are monogamous and territorial.

Both the parent grey-capped woodpeckers take part in excavating the nest and incubating the eggs. The clutch may contain 2-4 round, white eggs. The chicks hatch out in about 14 days and take about 25–30 days to fledge. The hatchlings are altricial.

Migration and movement patterns

These grey-capped woodpecker species are non-migratory resident birds. The birds in higher altitudes may move to lower levels during winter.

Post breeding, the juvenile woodpeckers may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding within their range.

Grey-capped woodpecker - Quick Facts

  • Scientific name: Picoides canicapillus
  • Species author: (Blyth, 1845)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Picus canicapillus Blyth, 1845, Yungipicus canicapillus
  • Family: Picidae › Piciformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Grey-capped woodpecker, Chinese: 星头啄木鸟, French: Pic à coiffe grise, German: Grauscheitelspecht, Spanish: Pico crestigrís, Russian: Большой острокрылый дятел, Japanese: ハイガシラコゲラ, Indonesian: Caladi Belacan
  • Other names: Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker
  • Distribution: Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia, China, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Russia
  • Diet and feeding habits: caterpillars, beetles, grubs, ants, termites, insect larvae, seeds, fruits
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the grey-capped woodpecker (Picoides canicapillus) has not been quantified. The overall population trend of the woodpecker species is considered to be stable.

Throughout its range, this woodpecker species is reported to be locally common to fairly common. The generation length is 5.2 years. Its distribution size is about 23,400,000

Habitat alteration and destruction and deforestation are the main threats that are endangering the survival of this woodpecker species.

IUCN and CITES status

The grey-capped woodpecker (Picoides canicapillus) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable either under the range size criterion, or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the woodpecker species and has listed it as of "Least Concern".

The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for grey-capped woodpecker (Picoides canicapillus).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Picoides canicapillus
Species:P. canicapillus
Binomial name:Picoides canicapillus
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
The grey-capped woodpecker (Picoides canicapillus) is closely related to Indian pygmy woodpecker (Picoides nanus).

The eleven recognized subspecies of grey-capped woodpecker (Picoides canicapillus) are: P. c. canicapillus, P. c. delacouri, P. c. aurantiiventris, P. c. doerriesi, P. c. auritus, P. c. volzi, P. c. semicoronatus, P. c. scintilliceps, P. c. kaleensis, P. c. swinhoei and P. c. mitchellii.
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1.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Dr. Raju Kasambe | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
2.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Ron Knight | License: CC BY 2.0 as on 10/28/17
3.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: David Cook | License: CC BY-NC 2.0 as on 10/28/17
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