Guadeloupe Woodpecker Melanerpes herminieri


Justification of Red List Category
Although this species may have a small range, it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km² combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
In 1994, the population was estimated to comprise 7,920 pairs in 381 km2 on Basse-Terre, and 2,410 pairs in 135 km2 on Grande-Terre (Villard and Rousteau 1998). Surveys in 2007 revealed no significant change, but a different methodology calculated a total population of 8,469 pairs (Villard et al. 2010). The population is therefore estimated to number at least 16,000 mature individuals, roughly equivalent to 24,000 individuals in total. The majority of the population occurs on the island of Basse-Terre in western Guadeloupe, while a smaller percentage inhabits the island of Grande-Terre (Winkler et al. 2018).

Trend justification
Between 1994 and 2007, the global population of Guadeloupe Woodpecker has been overall stable or increasing slowly (Villard et al. 2010). Kilometric index surveys found that the population on the island of Basse-Terre has been increasing considerably between 2011 and 2015, while the population on the island of Grande-Terre seemed to be declining (G. van Laere in litt. 2016). Considering that about 75% of the population occurs on Basse-Terre (Villard and Rosteau 1998, Winkler et al. 2018), the increase there potentially outweighs the decline on Grande-Terre, and the population is overall considered to be increasing (van Laere 2015). The rate of forest loss within the Guadeloupe Woodpecker’s range between 2000 and 2012 has been negligible (1.4% over three generations; Tracewski et al. 2016). Hurricane Maria, which hit the Caribbean in 2017, did not severely impact on the forest cover on Guadeloupe (Global Forest Watch 2018).

Distribution and population

Melanerpes herminieri is endemic to Guadeloupe (to France) in the Lesser Antilles. It inhabits the two main islands, Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre.


The species inhabits all types of forest within the range, from humid semi-deciduous and evergreen forest to mangroves and swamp forest (Villard and Rousteau 1998). It also occurs near plantations with large trees (Winkler et al. 2018). Preferred habitats with the highest estimated population densities are evergreen secondary forest, followed by swamp forest and rainforest (Villard et al. 2010). The species occurs from sea-level to the tree-line at 1,000 m, but is most common at 100-700 m (Winkler et al. 1995, Villard and Rousteau 1998). It excavates nest holes in the trunks of dead trees (Raffaele et al. 1998). Food items taken include a variety of invertebrates, vertebrates and fruit (Villard 2000).


A major threat to Guadeloupe Woodpecker is the loss of forests and the removal of dead trees, destroying its habitat and nesting sites, due to clear-cuts and infrastructural development (Raffaele et al. 1998, Villard and Rousteau 1998, Villard et al. 2010). Forest destruction by hurricanes can have a similarly serious impact on habitat availability. Further threats are the potential introduction of rats Rattus spp., pesticide use and illegal hunting (Winkler et al. 2018).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway

About 27% of remaining habitat is protected within the Guadeloupe National Park (Villard et al. 2010). Following the 2007 survey, the National Park is carrying out annual follow-ups on transects.

Conservation Actions Proposed

Monitor populations regularly. Discourage the removal of dead trees. Discourage clear-cutting and the siting of new roads and airports in valuble habitats. Investigate the impact of rats on nesting success.


Text account compilers
Wege, D., Benstead, P., Wheatley, H., Isherwood, I., Hermes, C., Mahood, S.

Villard, P. & van Laere, G.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Melanerpes herminieri. Downloaded from on 26/02/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/02/2020.