|Range||northern Mexico to western Panama.|
The habitat of this species is wet forests and adjacent second growth or semi-open woodland. Two white eggs are laid in an unlined nest hole 3–30 m (9.8–98.4 ft) high in a tree and incubated by both sexes. The young hatch naked and are fed by both parents.
The pale-billed woodpecker is 37 cm (15 in) long and weighs 255 g (9.0 oz). It resembles the lineated woodpecker (Dryocopus lineatus), but is larger and more robust.
The adult is mainly black above with a pale bill, bushy crest, and white lines down the shoulders which almost meet in a V on its back. The throat is black and the rest of the underparts are white, heavily barred with black. The male has a red head and crest; the female is similar, but the crest and throat are black. The female can be distinguished from the lineated woodpecker by the absence of a white facial stripe.
This bird has a characteristic drumming with two quick powerful taps. Its calls include nasal rattles and a keeu keeu keeu keeu breeding call.
This bird has been adversely affected by deforestation in parts of its range.