A small woodpecker of lowland wooded areas on the Sulu Islands. Dark brown above with some white spots on the back, a white rump, throat, and underparts with faint streaking, and buffy sides of the chest. Note the alternating dark brown and white stripes on the head, with a dark forecrown. Hind crown is dark in females and bright red in males. Unmistakable. No other similarly sized woodpeckers occur in its range. Voice includes a series of rapid notes in a forceful trill.