2005 Wildlife Facts - Puerto Rican Woodpecker

Photo of the Puerto Rican Woodpecker, Carpintero de Puerto Rico

Puerto Rican Woodpecker (Eng.), Carpintero de Puerto Rico (Sp.), Melanerpes portoricensis (Sci.), endemic (found only on) the islands of Puerto Rico and Vieques.

Photo from: Birds of Puerto Rico in Photographs, Marc Oberle. Information compiled by Alan Mowbray, Interpretive Media Writer, EYNF/LEF

General Information

Melanerpes portoricensis is the only common woodpecker found on the island of Puerto Rico. It is rare on the island of Vieques.


The Puerto Rican Woodpecker has a black upper body with bright red throat and breast and a white forehead and rump patch. Lower body is buff (light yellow). Body length is between 9 to 10.5 inches (23 to 27 centimeters) and weight is approximately 2.4 ounces (70 grams).


Like most woodpeckers, M. portoricensis uses its chisel-like bill, long, barbed tongue and sticky saliva to glean food from bark and holes it drills in trees. It eats beetle larvae, earwigs, ants and other insects. It will also occasionally eat spiders, frogs and lizards as well as berries and fruit. Using its bill, the male bird chisels-out nesting cavities in trees (and sometimes even power poles!) so that the female can lay 1 to 6 white eggs. When flying it flaps its wings several times, pauses, and then flaps again giving it a distinctive undulating, wavy flight pattern. Its call is a loud grouping of "Wicka" notes (click for sound recording).


M. portoricensis occurs in lower mountain forest foothills, coastal mangrove swamps and palm tree groves.

Where to look for this animal in the EYNF

Around the parking lot at the El Portal Rain Forest Center, on the El Portal Trail,- and in the area surrounding the Yokahu Tower Interpretive Site.

Additional Information

USDA Forest Service
El Yunque National Forest
HC-01 Box 13490
Rio Grande, PR 00745
787 888 1810

List of Mamals by Month

January: Pearly-eyed Thrasher February: Forest Coqui March: Yellow Chinned Anole
Photo/Link to the Pearly-eyed Trasher, Zorzal Pardo
Photo/Link to the Forest Coqui, Coqui de la Montana
Photo/Link to the Yellow-chinned Anole, Lagartijo Barba Amarilla
April: Green Mango May: Cricket Coqui June: Upland Grass Anole
Photo/Link to the Yellow-chinned Anole, Lagartijo Barba Amarilla
Photo/Link to the Cricket Coqui, Coqui Grillo
Photo/Link to the Upland Grass Anole, Lagartijo Jardinero de Montana
July: Puerto Rican Woodpecker August: Hover Fly September: Norway Rat
Photo/Link to the Puerto Rican Woodpecker, Carpintero de Puerto Rico
Photo/Link to the Hover Fly
Photo/Link to the Norway Rat, Rata Noruega
October: Red-tailed Hawk November: Jamaican Fruit-eating Bat December: Puerto Rican Emerald
Photo/Link to the Red-tailed Hawk, Guaraguao de Cola Roja
Photo/Link to the Jamaican Fruit-eating Bat/Murcia lago Frutero
Photo/Link to the Puerto Rican Emerald, Zumbadorcito de Puerto Rico