Neotropical Birds logo
Version 1.0

This is a historic version of this account.  Current version


Fine-barred Piculet Picumnus subtilis

Thomas S. Schulenberg and Guy M. Kirwan
Version: 1.0 — Published May 4, 2012


Distinguishing Characteristics

Piculets (Picumnus) are very small, short-tailed, short-billed woodpeckers. Fine-barred Piculet is olive above, with a buffy chin, and grayish underparts that are narrowly and distinctly barred darker. The forecrown of the male is red; the rear crown of the male, and the entire crown of the female, is black, with numerous small white spots.

Similar Species

Fine-barred Piculet is similar to Plain-breasted Piculet (Picumnus castelnau); these two species are not known to overlap, but their geographic ranges may meet, and in indeed one specimen of a suspected hybrid between the two has been reported. Fine-barred differs from Plain-breasted by having white spots on nape (and, in the female, on entire crown), yellower underparts, narrow gray barring on breast, and by its indistinct barring on the back. Fine-barred Piculet also is similar to sympatric Bar-breasted Piculet (Picumnus aurifrons), with which species it is broadly sympatric. Bar-breasted Piculet is much more heavily barred on breast, is strongly striped on belly, and is more associated with terra firme forest.

Detailed Description

The following description is based on Stager (1968) and Winkler et al. (1995):

Adult male: Crown and nape black; feathers of forecrown and center of crown broadly tipped reddish orange, feathers of rear crown and nape tipped with a circular white spot. Feathers of border of crown tipped with smaller white dots, forming a small supraocular stripe. Back, rump and uppertail coverts yellowish olive; each feather doubly barred with olive, forming a faint barred pattern. Remiges dusky brown; secondaries and coverts edged olive yellow. Chin and throat dull white. Breast gray, feathers barred and tipped with straw yellow. Bases of belly feathers gray, tips washed with straw yellow. Undertail coverts straw yellow. Rectrices black; central pair with clear white on inner webs.

Adult female: Entire crown black, spotted with white.

Juvenile: More heavily barred than adult, although the barring on the underparts is more diffuse. Crown (in both sexes) brownish black or sooty black, broadly streaked with off-white to buff.


Undescribed. Short (1982) reports adults in molt from June through August.

Bare Parts

Iris: brown

Orbital skin: grayish

Bill: black; base of mandible blue-gray

Tarsi and toes: olive, tinged green

Bare parts color data from Winkler et al. (1995).


Total length: ca 10 cm (Winkler et al. 1995)

Linear measurements: (from Winkler et al. 1995)

wing length, range 48.9-55 mm

tail length, range 25-29 mm

bill length, range 12-14.5 mm

tarsus length, range 12-12.5 mm

Mass: 10-11 g

Recommended Citation

Schulenberg, T. S. and G. M. Kirwan (2012). Fine-barred Piculet (Picumnus subtilis), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.fibpic1.01