Saturday, March 8, 2014


Once feared extinct, the Kaempfer’s Woodpecker was rediscovered in 2006, 80 years after its initial discovery. Long considered a subspecies of the Rufous-headed Woodpecker, the Kaempfer’s was recognized as a distinct species in 2003 based on differences in habitat, size, and plumage, combined with a large distance between the species’ ranges. 

Kaempfer’s Woodpecker is strongly associated with Gadua bamboo and specializes in feeding on ants found inside the bamboo canes. Students at Brazil’s University of Tocatins have been studying this species for several years, increasing knowledge of its range, which is vast but increasingly fragmented by agricultural activities, infrastructure development, and land-clearing for cattle ranching.

This woodpecker does not occur in any protected areas, and there appears to be no clear stronghold site for the species, which puts it at even greater risk of extinction. ABC is working with FAPTO (Fundação de Apoio Científico e Tecnológico do Tocantins) at the University of Tocatins to educate landowners about Kaempfer's Woodpecker and to create private protected reserves for this striking species.

NOTE:  This gorgeous, highly endangered species of woodpecker is this week’s American Bird Conservancy “Bird of the Week,” and I needed to share this with you, delaying Edward II’s appearance by at least one more day.  I dedicate this to my many Brazilian friends, who made and make my life richer, and to my former boss Jim Lopes, with whom I shared many wonderful lunches in Manhattan’s “Little Brazil.”   Also to my dogs who continue to keep me an outdoorsman.  Listen to Kaempfer's Woodpecker:

Kaempfer's Woodpecker Call (Link)


  1. What a splendidl woodpecker! I hope that it will thrive, or at least survive as a species. We have red-bellied and pileated ones around here. In order to keep them from detroying our fence, we keep squirrel-proof suet cakes out constantly. Nell

    1. She is quite a bird, I agree. I love woodpeckers, but they are definitely a handful. Curtis