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Campethera cailliautii (Green-backed woodpecker, Little spotted woodpecker) 

Gevlekte speg [Afrikaans]; Groenrugspecht [Dutch]; Pic de Cailliaut [French]; Tüpfelspecht [German]; Pica-pau-de-dorso-verde [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Piciformes > Family: Picidae

Campethera cailliautii (Green-backed woodpecker, Little spotted woodpecker)   

Green-backed woodpecker, Nigeria. [photo Seth of Rabi ©]


Distribution and habitat

Occurs from Cameroon through the DRC, Tanzania, Angola, Zambia and Malawi to central Mozambique and eastern Zimbabwe. It generally prefers lowland and riparian evergreen forest, as well as adjacent tall woodland with miombo (Brachystegia) and mahabohobo (Uapaca).

Distribution of Green-backed woodpecker in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common).

Movements and migrations

Resident and sedentary.


Exclusively eats ants (especially Crematogaster) and termites, along with their eggs and pupae, doing most of its foraging in the mid to upper canopy of trees. It catches prey by working its way along branches, tapping and probing with its bill while sometimes joining mixed species foraging flocks.


  • Monogamous and territorial, nesting solitarily in an excavated hole in the dead branch of a tree.
  • Egg-laying season is from September-February.
  • It lays 2-3 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes.
  • The chicks are brooded and fed by both parents, who carry the food in their crop before regurgitating it.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.