Flamebacks of The Philippines

N. J. Collar has published a paper in the most recent Forktail detailing a proposed split in the Greater Flameback complex, which is highly variable in the Philippines. I've only seen three, looks like a trip to Negros is warranted...

Luzon FlamebackChrysocolaptes haematribon. Luzon, Polillo, Marinduque, Catanduanes

Buff-spotted Flameback. Chrysocolaptes lucidus.
       C. l. rufopunctatus. Samar, Biliran, Leyte, Calicoan, Bohol, Panoan
       C. l. lucidus. Basilan, W. Mindanao
       C. l. montanus. C & E Mindanao, Samal

Yellow-faced FlamebackChrysocolaptes xanthocephalus. Ticao, Masbate, Guimares, Negros, Panay

Red-headed FlamebackChrysocolaptes erythrocephalus. Palawan, Balabac and Calamian group

In addition to these four the Palawan race of Common Flameback has also been split, creating yet another Philippine endemic woodpecker.

Spot-throated Flameback. Dinopium everetti. Balabac, Busuanga, Culion, Palawan

Red-headed Flameback. St. Paul's, Palawan, Jan 2011

An amazing looking bird, this is a female, the male has no yellow speckling on the crown.
Buff-spotted Flameback. C. l. montanus Kitanglad, Mindanao, Jan 2011

The most boring of the four! This is probably a juvenile male. The adult male has a striking red crest, and the female has no red on the crest, this has some red, but not as much as I'd expect from an adult.

Luzon Flameback. Makiling, Luzon, Nov 2011

Another splendid bird, the red back is quite striking. This is a female, the male has a red crest.

Spot-throated Flameback. Zigzag Road, Palawan, 10/06/12.

A male with a huge red crest, the female had a much smaller amount of red.


  1. Excellent, Yes, I have read the paper and I too, need to get down there to see these 'new' species. I am going to drop you an email to discuss these flamebacks etc, I hope that is OK. Gerard Gorman.

  2. I am quite confused by the recent splits. How can you tell one from the other? I live in El Nido and the call of the one we have here is very similar, if not exactly the same, to Chrysocolaptes lucidus. We still use the book "A Guide to the Birds of the Philippines" by Kennedy et. al for lack of a better book resource.

  3. I agree about the calls. To my ear they do sound the same, though I'm sure that some will be able to separate them. It's hard to keep up with the splits. There have been a couple of papers published recently in Birding Asia and Forktail (both published by the Oriental Bird Club http://orientalbirdclub.org/) which will help.