The Kaempfer’s (or Caatinga) Woodpecker is a rare species that has only been rediscovered recently.


The Kaempfer’s Woodpecker has a chestnut head and flight feathers, and is otherwise creamy yellow with a black chest and spots on the wings and back. The male has a red malar patch.


Intensive surveys in past years have shown this woodpecker has a large range from the states of Maranhão and Piauí in the north south to Goiás and eastern Mato Grosso, over a broad area of the Cerrado biome. They inhabit bamboo stands in Cerrado tropical savanna and native palm forests.

Life History


They mainly eat ants found inside bamboo canes.


The Kaempfer’s Woodpecker is a shy woodpecker spending most of their time in obscurity.


Woodpeckers give off series of squeaky notes followed by bubbling ones: “kreear klu-klu-klu-klu-klu.”


For dozens of years, the Kaempfer’s Woodpecker has not been spotted until recently in 2006. Although the species can be found across a large portion of Brazil's tropical savanna region, its habitat is increasingly fragmented by agricultural activities such as the planting of soy, infrastructure development, and land-clearing for ranching. It is currently listed as Endangered.


  • This woodpecker was originally collected by the German Emil Kaempfer in the 1920s, but not named until the 1970s, and not seen again until the early years of the 21st century.
  • Its specific name honors the person who first drew attention to the specimen’s significance.


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