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Woodpecker Finch Camarhynchus pallidus

This species is thought to have declined by more than 30% over the past three generations and this decline is projected to continue into the future. It also has a small range and is found at a limited number of locations. It is therefore evaluated as Vulnerable.

Taxonomic source(s)
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #

15 cm medium-large Darwins's finch. Bill long, apparently twice as long as base depth. Strong legs and large feet, tail short and weak. Male is sandy brown, unstreaked and rather pale with sandy brown face and pale area above and below eye. Iris dark and bill black during breeding, lower mandible paler at other times. Female resembles male in plumage however bill dull orange, not becoming black during breeding. Juvenile resembles female (Jaramillo and Christie 2013). Voice Song loud e.g. "chup-tupupupu chup-tupupupu" or "cht-trrr cht-trrr" or "chik-tip-tip-tip-tip chik-tip-tip-tip-tip". Calls include nasal "phew" (Jaramillo and Christie 2013).

Distribution and population
This species is found only on the Galápagos Islands (Ecuador). It is found on the islands of Fernandina, Isabela, Santiago, Pinzón, Santa Cruz, and San Cristóbal. Its status on Fernandina and Pinzón is uncertain (P. Grant in litt. 2013).

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but this species is described as 'uncommon' (Stotz et al. 1996). The population size on Santa Cruz in 2008 (largely confined to higher altitudes) was estimated at c. 12,000 singing males (Dvorak et al. 2012).

Trend justification
The population had been suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats. However a recent study by Dvorak et al. (2012) used quantitative census data to describe the distribution and abundance of the land birds of Santa Cruz, the second largest island in the Galápagos archipelago. The results revealed that the species had declined significantly between 1997 and 2010, with declines of >65% in the dry zone, >20% in Scalesia forest and >50% in the agricultural zone. Changes in insect abundance or availability could be driving the decline, although other factors such as habitat alteration and introduced species may also be influencing declines (Dvorak et al, 2012). No census data currently exists for the islands of Isabela and Santiago but given the level of habitat destruction and degradation by introduced herbivores on those islands (Henderson and Dawson 2009), similar declines are suspected.

The species uses a variety of  habitats and elevations, especially montane evergreen forest (Jaramillo and Christie 2013). It is common in Scalesia evergreen forest (dominated by treelike Scalesia pedunculata) and the Cinchona zone (dominated by Cinchona pubescens) on Santa Cruz (Dvorak et al. 2012). It feeds on arthropods, including wood-boring beetle larvae (Jaramillo and Christie 2013). Ecologically fills the role of a woodpecker or nuthatch and uses tools, such as sticks, to extract larvae from timber.

Habitat loss owing to human activities is thought to be a major threat. Endemic Scalesia forest on Santa Cruz had decreased to 1-2% of its original size by 2009 and has been invaded by introduced tree species (Dvorak et al. 2012). Spraying with herbicides to control these invasive plants may have reduced invertebrate abundance. Introduced herbivores are also thought to have had a negative impact on the species, causing significant damage to native vegetation. The species is known to be susceptible to the parasitic fly Philornis downsi and highly susceptible to avian pox (Dvorak et al. 2012). Droughts may have a negative impact on the species (Dvorak et al. 2012).

Conservation and Research Actions Underway
The species is found within the Galápagos National Park.

Conservation and Research Actions Proposed
Implement a full-scale monitoring programme for birds on the Galápagos islands in order to assess the impact of threats including diseases and habitat change and the effects of restoration (Dvorak et al. 2012). Continue research into Philornis downsi and implement management to limit its negative impact on Woodpecker Finch. Control introduced species. Protect remaining suitable habitat. Ensure management to control invasive plants does not impact negatively on the species.

Dvorak, M., Fessl, B., Nemeth, E., Kleindorfer, S. and Tebbich, S. 2012. Distribution and abundance of Darwin's finches and other land birds on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos: evidence for declining populations. Oryx 46(1): 78-86.

Henderson, S. and Dawson, T. P. 2009. Alien invasions from space observations: detecting feral goat impacts on Isla Isabela, Galapagos Islands with the AVHRR. International Journal of Remote Sensing 30: 423-433.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Jaramillo, A. and Christie, D.A. 2013. Woodpecker Finch (Camarhynchus pallidus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. and de Juana, E. (eds), Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive, Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W.; Parker, T. A.; Moskovits, D. K. 1996. Neotropical birds: ecology and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

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
Ashpole, J, Butchart, S. & Ekstrom, J.

Grant , P. & Cisneros-Heredia, D.F.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Camarhynchus pallidus. Downloaded from on 30/11/2015. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 30/11/2015.

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 - Woodpecker finch (Camarhynchus pallidus) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Emberizidae (Buntings, American sparrows and allies)
Species name author (Sclater & Salvin, 1870)
Population size U mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 7,400 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species