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Stierling's Woodpecker Dendropicos stierlingi
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is listed as Near Threatened because it is suspected to be undergoing a moderately rapid population decline, owing to the clearance of its principal habitat for firewood. If the decline is found to be greater, the species might qualify for uplisting to a higher threat category.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Distribution and population
Dendropicos stierlingi occurs in southern Tanzania, northern Mozambique and adjacent south-west Malawi (Winkler et al. 1995). Within most of this small range the species is uncommon to rare (Fry et al. 1988) although it has been reported as being common in parts of the Dzalanyama Mountains in Malawi (Short and Horne 1981).

Population justification
The population size of this species has not been quantified; it is considered common.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be undergoing a moderately rapid population decline owing to the clearance of its principal habitat for firewood.

It inhabits Brachystegia woodland almost exclusively (Fry et al. 1988), from lowland areas up to 1,500 m (del Hoyo et al. 2002). Its distribution is limited even within this habitat, although the reasons for this are unclear (Fry et al. 1988). It feeds on insects and centipedes in the middle strata and canopy, foraging on branches 4-12 cm thick and thus apparently avoiding competition with Cardinal Woodpecker D. fuscescens which feeds more often on twigs and smaller branches (Winkler et al. 1995). However, the opening-up of Brachystegia woodland probably favours Cardinal Woodpecker over Stierling's Woodpecker (Short and Horne 1981). It nests in tree holes, probably in July-October (del Hoyo et al. 2002).

In Malawi and possibly also in Mozambique and Tanzania, Brachystegia woodland is being cleared for firewood especially in areas of tobacco cultivation where the tobacco is dried over wood fires (F. Dowsett-Lemaire and R. J. Dowsett in litt. 1999).

Conservation Actions Underway
No targeted conservation action is known for this species. Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys to obtain a total population estimate. Monitor population trends through regular surveys. Monitor rates of habitat loss and degradation across the species's range. Protect the species's habitat.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 2002. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 7: Jacamars to Woodpeckers. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Fry, C. H.; Keith, S.; Urban, E. K. 1988. The birds of Africa vol III. Academic Press, London.

Short, L. L.; Horne, J. F. M. 1981. Vocal and other behavior of Stierling's Woodpecker Dendrocopus stierlingi. Scopus 5(1): 5-13.

Winkler, H.; Christie, D. A.; Nurney, D. 1995. Woodpeckers: a guide to the woodpeckers, piculets and wrynecks of the world. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, U.K.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., O'Brien, A., Robertson, P., Starkey, M., Symes, A., Taylor, J.

Dowsett, R., Dowsett-Lemaire, F.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Dendropicos stierlingi. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Picidae (Woodpeckers)
Species name author Reichenow, 1901
Population size Unknown mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 153,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change