Thai National Parks

Species of Thailand

Olive-backed woodpecker

Gecinulus rafflesii

Nicholas Aylward Vigors, 1830

In Thai: นกหัวขวานสามนิ้วหลังสีไพล

The olive-backed woodpecker (Gecinulus rafflesii) is a species of bird in the woodpecker family Picidae that is found in Southeast Asia.


The olive-backed woodpecker was described by the Irish zoologist Nicholas Aylward Vigors in 1830 from a specimen collected by Stamford Raffles. Vigors coined the binomial name Picus rafflesii, with the specific epithet chosen to honour the memory of Raffles. The type location is Sumatra. The species is now placed in the genus Dinopium that was introduced by the French polymath Constantine Samuel Rafinesque in 1814.

A large phylogenetic study of the woodpecker family Picidae published in 2017 found that the olive-backed woodpecker (Gecinulus rafflesii) is more closely related to the pale-headed woodpecker (Gecinulus grantia). It may, therefore, be more appropriately assigned to the genus Chloropicoides.

Two subspecies are recognised:

  • G. r. rafflesii (Vigors, 1830) – south Myanmar, southwest Thailand, Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and Bangka Island (east of Sumatra)
  • G. r. dulitense Delacour, 1946 – Borneo


The olive-backed woodpecker has yellow-green upperparts and gray-olive underparts. The side of the head has two black and white stripes. The male has a large red crest, the female has a smaller black crest.

Distribution and habitat

The olive-backed woodpecker has a wide range in Southeast Asia, occurring in Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and Indonesia (on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra). Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland, mangrove and montane forests; the species avoids clearings and secondary forest.


Gecinulus rafflesii is threatened by illegal deforestation due to the development of palm oil plantations and the deliberate targeting of primary forest wood. These practices of deforestation even continue in protected areas. The total population of this bird is unknown but it is thought to be uncommon. It is currently classified as Near threatened by the IUCN.

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Category / Seasonal Status

Wiki listed status (concerning Thai population): Rare

BCST Category: Recorded in an apparently wild state within the last 50 years

BCST Seasonal status: Resident or presumed resident

Scientific classification

Gecinulus rafflesii

Common names

  • Thai: นกหัวขวานสามนิ้วหลังสีไพล

Conservation status

Near Threatened (IUCN3.1)

Near Threatened (IUCN3.1)

Near Threatened (IUCN3.1)

Near Threatened (BirdLife)

Endangered (IUCN3.1)

Endangered (ONEP)

Endangered (IUCN3.1)

Endangered (BCST)


No photo for this species yet

Range Map

Distribution map of Olive-backed woodpecker, Gecinulus rafflesii in Thailand
  • Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Kaeng Krachan National Park
  • Khao Banthat Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Luang National Park
  • Khao Sok National Park
Range map of Gecinulus rafflesii in Thailand