Neotropical Birds
Version  1.0
This is a historic version of this account.   Current version

Yellow-tufted Woodpecker Melanerpes cruentatus

Kara Jones
Version: 1.0 — Published November 25, 2014



The breeding biology of Yellow-tufted Woodpecker is poorly known for such a common and conspicuous species. Nesting has been reported in March in Colombia (Hilty and Brown 1986); in April in Ecuador (Greeney et al. 2004), with possible nesting (excavation of a cavity) in September (Greeney and Gelis 2008); in September in northern Brazil on the Rio Negro (Winkler et al. 1995); in August in Peru (Short 1970); and in central Brazil (Mato Grosso) from December to February (Winkler et al. 1995).

Yellow-tufted Woodpeckers are cooperative breeders and may nest semicolonially. Short (1970), for example, observed three active nests within 75 m of one another; these nests all were associated with a group of at least 11 individuals, with at least one adult attending all three nests. Barrio (1995) observed a nest attended by three males and one female. The breeding system of Yellow-tufted Woodpecker may be variable, however, as there also are observations of no more than a single pair attending a nest (Greeney et al. 2004).

Yellow-tufted woodpeckers nest in cavities that they excavate in dead trees (Cosson et al. 1999) or live softwood trees (Greeney and Gelis 2008). Tree species in which they excavate nests include a palm (Mauritia sp.; Greeney et al. 2004), and the leguminous Inga sp. (Greeney and Gelis 2008).

Little is known about nestling development.  Both sexes incubate (Barrio 1995), feed the young (Barrio 1995, Greeney et al. 2004), and clean the nest (Barrio 1995). The young fledge after about 30 days (Barrio 1995).

Recommended Citation

Jones, K. (2014). Yellow-tufted Woodpecker (Melanerpes cruentatus), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.yetwoo2.01
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