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The Kaempfer's Woodpecker (Celeus obrieni), also known as Piau Woodpecker, is a species of woodpecker from Brazil. The type specimen, a female, was collected in the Brazilian state of Piau in 1926. No other individuals were collected or seen and the bird was feared extinct, until a male was captured by Advaldo Dias do Prado during mist netting in 2006 in the state of Tocantins. It was known as the Caatinga Woodpecker for some time, but this name is misleading and based on confusion between two places with similar names (see below).
Normally, it has been considered a subspecies of the Rufous-headed Woodpecker (Celeus spectabilis), but an evaluation by the South American Classification Committee in 2003 resulted in it being recognized as a distinct species. This was based on the differences in habitat, size and plumage, combined with the large distance (more than 3000 kilometers mi) between the ranges of the two species.
It has a total length of about 24 centimeters (9 in). The head and remiges are mainly rufous-chestnut, the underparts and back are buff, the wing-coverts are barred in black and buff and the chest and tail are uniform black. The male has a red malar and mottling on its crest. For comparison, the Rufous-headed Woodpecker is larger and has extensive black barring on the back and underparts.
Little is known about its habitat preference, but it appears to be associated with bamboo (specifically Guadua paniculata) growing in Cerrado and babassu palm forest; very unlike the humid forest and woodland where the related Rufous-headed Woodpecker is found. There is no evidence to suggest that it occurs in Caatinga. Rather, the authors who proposed the common name Caatinga Woodpecker and association it with the caatinga habitat mistook a place in the caatinga called Uruu-Una for the type locality Uruu, some 180 km. NNW in cerrado habitat. This has led to Kaempfer's Woodpecker being suggested as a common name instead of Caatinga Woodpecker. The new name honours Emil Kaempfer who collected the type.
Since its initial rediscovery in 2006, the Kaempfer's Woodpecker has been recorded at multiple sites in Tocantins, and very locally in adjacent states. Some sites are threatened by the construction of a new section of the Belm-Braslia Highway, and habitat loss is likely to be the main threat. However, due to the taxonomic confusion with the Rufous-headed Woodpecker, it has only recently been evaluated by BirdLife International where it has been given a status of Critically Endangered for the 2007 Red List. Based on the additional sites discovered since then, it has been suggested that Endangered may be more appropriate.