Amami Woodpecker Dendrocopos owstoni


Justification of Red List Category
This newly-split species has a very restricted range, breeding only on a single Japanese island. The global population is thought to be small (approaching the threshold for classification as Vulnerable under the very small population criterion), and it is therefore classified as Near Threatened. Any evidence of declines would mean that the species would likely warrant uplisting.

Population justification
This is considered a rare species (del Hoyo et al. 2002); the population has been estimated at fewer than 630 pairs (Winkler et al. 1995), placed here in the band 1,000-2,499 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population trend is suspected to be stable in the absence of any evidence of declines or significant threats.

Distribution and population

D. owstoni is endemic to Amami-oshima (Amami Island) in the central Ryukyu Islands, Japan, where it is restricted to mature evergreen broadleaved hill forest (Winkler et al. 1995, del Hoyo et al. 2002).


The species is confined to old mature evergreen broadleaf forest in the hills of Amami-oshima, where it specializes on large wood-boring insects (Winkler et al. 1995).


There is limited logging and road construction taking place on Amami-oshima.

Conservation actions

Conservation and research actions underway
No targeted actions are known.

Conservation and research actions proposed
Carry out surveys to obtain an up-to-date population estimate. Conduct regular surveys to ascertain the population trend. Conserve and restore remaining areas of mature forest on Amami-oshima. Control feral cats in the forest on Amami-Oshima.


25-30cm. A medium-large black-and-white 'typical' woodpecker, though more black than white as the white spotting on the upperparts is reduced to small marks on the wings and the underparts are heavily streaked black. The face is predominately white, with a black submoustacial stripe that curves around the lower ear coverts and broadens in to a large black patch on the breast. Males show a dark red crown; black in the female. Similar spp. Much darker, slightly larger and with longer wings than White-backed Woodpecker (D. leucotus), with which the present species was formerly included. D. owstoni also has a much greater extent of the black on the breast and dark reddish underparts.


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Martin, R, Taylor, J., Symes, A., North, A.

Ishida, K., Mizuta, T.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Dendrocopos owstoni. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/06/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/06/2022.