Galapagos Species Database

The Galapagos Species Database shares the information about the species from our Natural History Collections.

Camarhynchus pallidus (P.L.Sclater & Salvin, 1870)

Pinzón carpintero, artesano, Woodpecker Finch

Woodpecker Finch in Santa Cruz, Galapagos. Photo: Michael Dvorak, CDF.
Woodpecker Finch in Santa Cruz, Galapagos. Photo: Michael Dvorak, CDF.

Black during reproduction, olive-light brown colour outside the breeding season and pinkish when young. Males and females look alike, with upper parts olive to warm brown with little streaking and underparts creamy to yellowish with slight streaking on upper breast. Males in San Cristóbal can get a black hood – blackish plumage was observed in approximately a fifth of the San Cristóbal population.

Threats Like other finches, current threats are mainly from diseases and parasites. Is known to be affected by the parasitic fly Philornis downsi that causes heavy chick mortality. Highland birds that contracted pox in captivity, were heavily affected by this disease.










Taxon category: Accepted

Syn.: Cactornis pallida Sclater & Salvin, 1870; Cactospiza pallida; Camarhynchus pallidus pallidus (Sclater & Salvin, 1870); Camarhynchus pallidus productus Ridgway, 1894; Camarhynchus pallidus striatipecta (Swarth, 1931)

Taxon origin: Endemic




Preference for an altitude zone in Galapagos: Coastal zone - high altitude dry zone

Habitat preferences: Most common in highlands but found all the way down to the coast in forested areas.

Feeding type: Insectivorous

This is the famous tool-using finch of Galápagos able to use a cactus spine or a twig to get larvae from holes in wood. Uses this technique mainly during the dry season in the dry zone. Young birds can learn this behaviour, but adults cannot.

Feeding preferences: Feeds on insects and larvae gathered from the moss on trees as well as from under the bark on branches and trunks. Quite flexible in habits, can change foraging techniques between the wet and dry season, searching more in moss in the dry season.

Trophic role: Carnivorous

Reproduction mode: Exclusively sexual

Reproductive biology: Breeds during the rainy season (December to April), possibly start breeding a few weeks earlier than other finches. Male displays in front of a dome shape nest. Once chosen, the pair either use this nest or build a new one. Only females incubate (one to three eggs), both feed the chicks. Fledglings stay for up to 6 weeks with a parent, either with the male while the female starts a new clutch, or, one with the female and the other with the male.


Distribution: Breeds on Isabela, Fernandina (probably), Santa Cruz, Santiago, San Cristóbal, and Pinzón (rarely). It has also been recorded on Rábida (specimens 1897 and 1905), Floreana (specimen 1905) and Santa Fe (two sight records 1968), and a sight record on Pinta in 1968.


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