A small, compact woodpecker with heavily streaked underparts and a solid black moustachial streak. In the female the top of the head is completely dark, while in the male the forecrown is brown and hindcrown and nape are red. Pairs inhabit a wide range of savanna, woodland, forest-edge, and riverine forest, where they feed in dead branches and smaller twigs ignored by larger woodpeckers. An angry-sounding, dry, trilled rattle call often gives it away.
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