any of about 29 species of small, stub-tailed birds related to the woodpeckers and constituting the subfamily Picumninae, family Picidae (q.v.). Nearly all are restricted to Central and South America; there are three species in East Asia and one in western Africa. Piculets, 9-14 cm (3.5-5.5 inches) long, are mottled gray-green to brown above, often with salt-and-pepper head, and are white below, with spots or bars. They climb like nuthatches, looking for insects, and are able to perch crosswise on branches. Though small-billed, piculets dig nest holes in soft wood. The most widely distributed New World species is the white-barred piculet (Picumnus cirratus), found from the Guiana Highlands to Argentina. The speckled piculet (P. innominatus) of southeast Asia drums on dry bamboo.
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