Dryocopus is a genus of large powerful woodpeckers, typically 35-45 cm in length. It has representatives in North and South America, Europe and Asia; some South American species are endangered. It was believed to be closely related to the American genus Campephilus, but it is part of an entirely different lineage of woodpeckers altogether (Benz et al., 2006)
Their breeding habitat is forested areas with large trees, where they nest in a large cavity in a dead tree or a dead part of a tree. They may excavate a new hole each year, creating habitat for other large cavity nesting birds. They are non-migratory permanent residents.
They are mainly black in plumage with red on the crown of the head, often as a crest. Most species also have some white areas of plumage, especially on the head, and some have additional red facial markings.
The male, female and juvenile plumages of each species usually differ, often in the extent of red on the crown and elsewhere on the head. The flight is strong and direct, and the calls are typically loud wild laughs. The drumming of these large birds can be heard from a great distance.