A “classic” Celeus woodpecker, medium-sized and rufous overall with a shaggy crest. Unlike the similar Scale-breasted and Waved Woodpeckers, Chestnut Woodpecker mostly or entirely lacks black markings on the body and wings. Sexes are similar, but males have a red mustache. The color of the crest varies across subspecies: some birds have a contrasting golden crest, while others have a plain rufous crest like the rest of the body. Widespread but uncommon across much of northern South America, where it inhabits the mid-levels of lowland forests and edges, especially around water.