In size it could be confused with Green-backed Woodpecker. It differs in that it has bold, black moustacial stripes and appears black and white (not green and white) all over. Male can further be distinguished from male Green-backed Woodpecker by its brown (not red) forehead.
Female has a black nape. Juvenile male has a red crown and a black nape.
Diverse; from thick forests to dry thornveld.
A high-pitched 'krrrek krreek krrrek'; also makes a soft drumming sound.