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Great Slaty Woodpecker Mulleripicus pulverulentus
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is listed as Vulnerable as it has suffered a rapid population decline over the past 20 years (three generations) due to loss of primary forest cover throughout much of its range. However the true rate of decline may be greater than currently estimated, and evidence of such declines would result in the species being uplisted in the future.

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
Mulleripicus pulverulentus is found in South-East Asia, from northern India through the foothills of the Himalayas to southern China, Nepal (a rare and local resident), Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, and through peninsular Malaysia and Singapore to the western islands of Indonesia and the Philippines (del Hoyo et al. 2002, Inskipp et al. 2011). The current population has been estimated at 26,000-550,000 individuals, which according to previous levels of forest cover may be a 90% decline on historical levels, and a significant decline within the past couple of decades (Lammertink et al. 2009).

Population justification
Based on remote sensing and population density data, the global population has been estimated to number 26,000-550,000 individuals. This figure is revised from 260,000-550,000 individuals, as in many countries extrapolation from forest cover exceeds population numbers that appear reasonable based on anecdotal information about the abundance of the species, as large tracts which are classified as forest in remote sensing data are not occupied by the species (e.g. heath forest).

Trend justification
The species is estimated to have declined by 40-75% over the last 3 generations, using different calculated generation lengths and declines in forest cover. However, given that there is uncertainty in extrapolating population density trends over such a large range, and the data on forest cover trends used was crude, a decline of 30-49% over the past 20 years (3 generations) seems appropriate (Lammertink et al. 2009).

Behaviour This resident species breeds between March and May in the west of its range and without a distinct season in South-East Asia (Lammertink 2004). Clutch size is two to four eggs. Nest-hole excavation, incubation and chick-rearing are conducted by both sexes, with helpers at some nests. It forages in noisy groups of three to six individuals and sometimes more (Lammertink 2004). Groups occupy large territories. Habitat It occupies primary semi-open moist deciduous and tropical evergreen old growth, lower elevation forests, as well as adjacent secondary forest and clearings with scattered tall trees. It prefers dipterocarp and teak forests in certain areas, as well as swamp-forest and tall mangroves. It is most frequent in lowlands and lower hills below 600 m, but does occur up to 1,100 m in the Himalayas and occasionally up to 2,000 m. Diet Foraging groups search and exploit nests of social insects (ants, termites, and stingless bees), often in trunks and branches of old live trees. Birds may also take small fruit (Lammertink 2004).

It is threatened by habitat destruction, particularly the felling of old-growth forest, though it may persist in heavily logged forests at lower densities (Lammertink et al. 2009). There is no evidence of it being hunted but it is absent from or exceedingly rare at sites in Myanmar and Indochina where wildlife hunting is common (Lammertink in litt. 2012).  

Conservation Actions Underway
No current action is known for this species, although it does occur in many protected areas (del Hoyo et al. 2002).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Research the status of this species at additional sites across its range (Lammertink et al. 2009). Assess density responses to forest disturbance in the Indochinese forest complex (Lammertink et al. 2009). Investigate whether degraded forests can support viable populations (Lammertink et al. 2009). Promote the protection of large tracts of its range, particularly in Myanmar which is thought to be a population stronghold (Lammertink et al. 2009).

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

Inskipp, C., Baral, H. S. and Inskipp, T. 2011. The state of Nepal’s birds 2010. Bird Conservation Nepal and Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Lammertink, M. 2004. A multiple-site comparison of woodpecker communities in Bornean lowland and hill forests. Conservation Biology 18: 746-757.

Lammertink, M.; Prawiradilagac, D. M.; Setiorini, U.; Nainge, T. Z.; Duckworth, J. W.; Menkena S. B. J. 2009. Global population decline of the Great Slaty Woodpecker (Mulleripicus pulverulentus). Biological Conservation 142: 166-179.

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
Butchart, S., Calvert, R., Derhé, M., Ekstrom, J.

Lammertink, M., Baral, H., Inskipp, C.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Mulleripicus pulverulentus. 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.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Great slaty woodpecker (Mulleripicus pulverulentus) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Picidae (Woodpeckers)
Species name author (Temminck, 1826)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 2,510,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species