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Arabian Woodpecker Dendropicos dorae
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is listed as Vulnerable because it has a small population, which is likely to be declining as a result of excessive cutting and lopping of trees for charcoal, firewood and fodder, in parts of its range.

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.

Taxonomic note
Dendropicos dorae (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) was previously placed in the genus Dendrocopos.

Dendrocopos dorae (Bates & Kinnear, 1935), Picoides dorae ssp. dorae , Picoides dorae ssp. dorae

18 cm. Rather small, olive-brown woodpecker with white bars across wings and red patch on rear of head of male. Both sexes show pale red patch down centre of belly. Voice Accelerating, then descending, kek-kek-kek-kek-kek-kek is the most frequently heard call. Variable pweek pit-pit-pit-pit-pit-pit-pit given between members of pair. Hints Only woodpecker breeding in Arabia. Typical woodpecker undulating flight. Drums feebly and only occasionally.

Distribution and population
Dendrocopos dorae occurs locally in the Red Sea foothills and western ramparts of south-west Arabia (Winkler et al. 1995), from 13°N in Yemen to 26°N in Saudi Arabia (Jennings 1995). It is generally uncommon to rare where it occurs, with some population data (Davidson 1996, Newton and Newton 1996) suggesting that local densities are probably equivalent to 0.1-1.0 mature individuals per km2. The total population is therefore inferred to number fewer than 10,000 mature individuals. However, a more recent estimate of c.7,500 pairs (Jennings 2010) implies that there are c.15,000 mature individuals (M. Jennings in litt. 2012), thus the population estimate used in this assessment may need to be revised. The population is currently inferred to be in continuing decline, but it has been suggested that its range and population have remained stable since the species was described early in the 20th century (Jennings 2010).

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
There are no new data on population trends, and it has been suggested that its range and population have remained stable since the 1930s (Jennings 2010), but the species is precautionarily suspected to be in slow decline owing to habitat loss and degradation.

It inhabits woodland, which now occurs only in residual fragments in Yemen, following millennia of settlement, cultivation and livestock-grazing. It occurs in a wide variety of woodland-types, including: groves of fig Ficus, date-palm Phoenix or pandan Pandanus at lower altitudes; subtropical, evergreen riparian forest; traditional shade-coffee plantations and well-developed succulent shrubland at middle-altitudes; woods, groves and parklands of Acacia, Juniperus, Olea and Dracaena at higher altitudes (often on slopes terraced for agriculture); and old-established orchards in the highlands (King 1978, Everett 1987, Newton and Newton 1996, Winkler et al. 1996). It occurs from sea-level to 2,800 m, and breeding records and behaviour (February-May) have been noted from 400 m up to 2,400 m (Everett 1987, Porter et al. 1996, Winkler et al. 1996, Jennings 2010), although it probably breeds down to sea-level (M. Jennings in litt. 2012). The nest-site is a small hole excavated in the trunk or major branch of a large tree (generally in dead wood or in a soft-wooded species).

Lopping, cutting and clearance of trees, for charcoal and firewood (especially in Yemen [Beck 1990, Scholte et al. 1991]) and for building/agricultural land (mainly in Saudi Arabia [Newton and Newton 1996]), are problems in parts of the species's range. Such activities are likely to preferentially target nest-trees (Winkler et al. 1996), and are known to have reduced the number of large trees at some sites since the late 1980s (Beck 1990). In Yemen at least, the high price of cooking gas, and consequent heavy reliance on fuelwood, could be a cause for concern (D. Stanton in litt. 2012). Abandonment of agricultural terraces at mid-altitudes is leading to massive loss of top-soil and degradation of terrace woodlands (Scholte et al. 1991). A lack of tree regeneration, owing to high levels of grazing and browsing by livestock, has been observed at several sites and may be a problem.

Conservation Actions Underway
There are many traditional rangeland reserves (mahjur) in south-west Arabia, where the vegetation (including trees) is protected by private or communal ownership rights from excessive exploitation, in order to provide fodder in times of drought (Scholte et al. 1991). However, the management of these areas has been widely neglected or abandoned since the advent of more convenient supplies of supplemental feed (Scholte et al. 1991). The species occurs in at least two protected areas in Saudi Arabia: Raydah Reserve and Asir National Park (Newton and Newton 1996). Conservation Actions Proposed
Encourage non-intensive agroforestry practices. Conduct a comprehensive population census and more extensive survey of potentially suitable sites. Promote the species as a flagship for strengthening the degree of protection of several sites in Saudi Arabia.

Beck, R. 1990. Environmental profile Tihama: Yemen Arab Republic.

Davidson, P. 1996. Habitats and bird communities in southern Yemen and Socotra. Sandgrouse 17: 102-129.

Everett, M. J. 1987. The Arabian Woodpecker in North Yemen. Sandgrouse: 74-77.

Jennings, M. C. 1995. An interim atlas of the breeding birds of Arabia. National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development, Riyadh.

Jennings, M. C. 2010. Atlas of the breeding birds of Arabia. Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, Frankfurt am Main, Germany and Riyadh.

King, B. 1978. April bird observations in Saudi Arabia. Journal of Saudi Arabian Natural History Society 21: 3-24.

Newton, S. F.; Newton, A. V. 1996. Seasonal changes in the abundance and diversity of birds in threatened juniper forest in the southern Asir mountains, Saudi Arabia. Bird Conservation International 6: 371-392.

Porter, R.F., Christensen, S. and Schiermacker-Hansen, P. 1996. Poyser, London, UK.

Scholte, P.; Khuleidi, A. W. A.; Kessler, J. J. 1991. The vegetation of the Republic of Yemen (western part). Environmental Protection Council and Agricultural Research Authority, Dhamar, Yemen.

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.

Winkler, H.; Newton, A. V.; Newton, S. F. 1996. On the ecology and behaviour of the Arabian Woodpecker Picoides dorae. Zoology in the Middle East 12: 33-45.

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., Mahood, S., Martins, R., Taylor, J.

Jennings, M., Porter, R., Stanton, D.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Dendropicos dorae. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016.

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 Vulnerable
Family Picidae (Woodpeckers)
Species name author (Bates & Kinnear, 1935)
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 130,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species