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Okinawa Woodpecker Dendrocopos noguchii
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This woodpecker has a single tiny, declining population which is threatened by the continued loss of mature forest to logging, dam construction, agriculture, and military and golf course developments. These factors qualify it as Critically Endangered.

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
Sapheopipo noguchii (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) is placed in the genus Dendrocopos following Winkler et al. (2005).

Sapheopipo noguchii Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993), Sapheopipo noguchii Collar and Andrew (1988), Sapheopipo noguchii Collar et al. (1994), Sapheopipo noguchii BirdLife International (2000), Sapheopipo noguchii BirdLife International (2004)

31 cm. Medium-sized, dark woodpecker. Generally deep brown with reddish tips to feathers, brightest on lower rump and uppertail-coverts. White spots on primaries. Tan-brown lores, malar area and ear-coverts and paler brown throat. Male has dark red crown and nape streaked with blackish-brown and female has blackish-brown crown. Voice Sharp whit call and a variable kyu-kyu kup kup kup or kyu kyu kup.

Distribution and population
Dendreocopos noguchii is endemic to Okinawa Island, Japan, where it is confined to Kunigami-gun (=Yambaru) with the main breeding areas along the mountain ridges between Mt Nishime-take and Mt Iyu-take (BirdLife International 2001). It also occurs in coastal areas. It was considered close to extinction in the 1930s and, in the early 1990s, the breeding population was estimated to be c.75 birds and the total population between 146-584 birds. A density of 12.1 birds per km2 has been estimated at the US Forces Northern Training Area in north-eastern Okinawa.

Population justification
The global population is estimates to number 150-584 individuals (Ikehara et al. 1991 in BirdLife International 2001), roughly equating to 100-390 mature individuals, while the population is Japan has been estimated at < c.100 breeding pairs (Brazil 2009).

Trend justification
This species is suspected to be undergoing a moderate decline as a result of the on-going clearance of old-growth forests.

It occurs in subtropical, evergreen broadleaved forest at least 30 years old, with tall trees more than 20 cm in diameter, much of which is now confined to hill-tops. Foraging takes place in old-growth forest. Nesting is between late February-May, often in hollow Castanopsis cuspidata trees. There is an extraordinary difference in the foraging niches of males and females (Kotaka et al. 2006). Although both forage on dead and live trunks, males have also adapted to feed on the ground on soil-dwelling arthropods, as well as berries, seeds, acorns and other nuts (Kotaka et al. 2006).

Its decline is primarily attributable to deforestation, which continues at a significant rate as a result of logging, dam construction and associated road-building, agricultural development and golf course construction. Construction of six new helipads near the village of Takae in the US Marine Corps Northern Training Area began in 2007 and represents a further potential threat to remaining areas of forest (WWF Japan 2007). The species's limited range and tiny population make it vulnerable to extinction from disease and natural disasters such as typhoons. It is also threatened by introduced predators, such as mongoose and feral cats (N. Kotaka in litt. 2012). The species is thought to be particularly susceptible to predation by alien species because it often forages on the ground, and during a 2006 survey the stomach contents of a captured mongoose were found to contain the species's feathers (N. Kotaka in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Underway
It is legally protected in Japan. It occurs in Yonaha-dake Prefecture Protection Area and small protected areas on Mt Ibu and Mt Nishime and conservation organisations have purchased sites where it occurs. In early 2012, the Ministry of the Environment was preparing for the designation of the Yambaru area as a national park, although some forest in the Yambaru area has been protected by local administrations since 2007 (N. Kotaka in litt. 2012). 
Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue to monitor its population. Designate a special protected area to cover all the mature forest (40 years old or more) on the central ridge of northern Okinawa, and strictly protect forest that has escaped deforestation during and since World War II (N. Kotaka in litt. 2012). Connect fragmented forests in the north with planted forest corridors and ensure all forests of more than 25 years old are protected and logging is prohibited. Provide nest-boxes in young secondary forest. Initiate a conservation education programme using Okinawa Rail Gallirallus okinawae and Okinawa Woodpecker as flagship species.

BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.

WWF Japan. 2007. We demand an end to helipad construction in the US Armed Forces Northern Training Area. Available at: #

Further web sources of information
Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species/site profile. This species has been identified as an AZE trigger due to its IUCN Red List status and limited range.

Click here for more information about the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE)

Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

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
Benstead, P., Chan, S., Crosby, M., Peet, N., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Temple, H.

Kotaka, N.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Dendrocopos noguchii. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016.

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.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Okinawa woodpecker (Dendrocopos noguchii) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Critically Endangered
Family Picidae (Woodpeckers)
Species name author (Seebohm, 1887)
Population size 100-390 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 590 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species