Medium-sized woodpecker with a densely-spotted black-and-white back and blotchy brown-and-white underparts. Female has an all-golden crown; male has a red forecrown. Where it overlaps with Brown-fronted Woodpecker, note blotchier brown striping on the underparts, pale vent, and duller crown. Gives sharp notes and a high descending rattle. Favors dry arid areas with relatively open foliage.