A small woodpecker of foothill and low-elevation montane forest and more open wooded areas. White, speckled underparts reach a dotted moustache stripe on the face. Dark brown upperparts are cut by white barring on the back and white bands on the head. Male has a red mark on the back of the head. Unmistakable. No other woodpecker of a similar size occurs in its range. Voice includes a short, slightly metallic rattling trill.