A small, relatively dark woodpecker of humid forest. Mostly dark olive-green with a paler face and underparts. The throat is streaked, the breast is spotted, and the belly is barred. Males have a small red patch on the back of the head. Found in rainforest and thick secondary forest at low and middle elevations. Spends most of its time at middle levels and in the understory. Similar to Brown-eared Woodpecker, but smaller, without a dark cheek patch. Also reminiscent of Green-backed and Little Green Woodpeckers, but separated by the spotted rather than barred breast. Not very vocal, but does give a descending, mournful whistle.