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Yellow head, male showing red all over the crown and with a red malar stripe while the female shows red only on the nape. The upperparts are yellow-green and underparts are white with distinctive black scales.
Note that the male of the subspecies found in eastern Brazil, P. f. erythropis has an entirely red throat, not just a red malar stripe.
Forest and forest edges including caatinga forest.
It pecks and hammers at trunks and branches; the diet includes ants.
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