I invite you to take a tour through images of this woodpecker. I have handpicked images which captures the key features of the bird. By seeing these photos, and reading the tips below, you will learn to recognize this bird. When you see these bird photos,in addition to my tips,I encourage you to make your own mental notes of features you find unique and striking.
Photo Courtesy of Sumeet Moghe @ Thattekad,Kerala, Nov 2011
You can tell that this is a male bird by the red crest.The plain unmarked wings and back tells that this bird is a greater flameback as opposed to the similar looking black-rumped flameback.This woodpecker has broad black stripe running across its eyes, down through the sides of the neck. Other stripes near its bill is much narrower. The throat is white in color with some thin black lines.
Photo Courtesy of Francesco Veronesi @ Corbett National Park,Uttarakhand, Feb 2007
Here is a female bird with the four-toed feet visible.The similar looking black-rumped flameback is three-toed.Also, these brids have a red rump ( the birds back immediately above the tail – the region is concealed by the folded wings when perching).Sorry I digressed. Let’s come back to more easily noticed features of the bird here. The female bird never has a red crest. However, the color of the crest may not be always black with white spots as shown here.There are some small variations between subspecies.
Photo Courtesy of Soumyajit Nandy @ Ghatgarh, Uttarakhand, Sep 2014
Here is another superb shot of a female greater flameback woodpecker. You can easily tell that this is a greater flameback by the broad black stripe going across the eyes down into the neck. The unmarked, plain golden wings also is a clue that this is a greater flameback (greater goldenback).
Photo Courtesy of Vijay Anand Ismavel @ Hathikhira Tea Estate, Karimganj District, Assam, Mar 2013
Here is another view of a male bird.In this instance too, as the case above, you can tell that this is a greater flameback by its broad eye stripe and the unmarked golden wing.I included this shot taken at a slightly different angle, to improve your confidence to identify the bird in the field.
Greater flameback has a large range. It occurs in India,Bangladesh,Nepal,Bhutan and further east into parts of China,Myanmar,Laos,Cambodia,Vietnam and Indonesia. In India it is found in Western Ghats,the Himalayas and down into Bengal, Odisha and towards the interior into Chattisgarh.
They feed on insects,small invertebrates and nectar.They nest in tree cavities.Young birds look similar to female birds but are duller. Also their eye color is brown as opposed to yellow or white in adults (a feature that can be tough in the field IMHO).
1.Greater Flameback page @ Wikipedia
2.Greater Flameback page @ IUCN Red List
3.Greater Flameback page @ xeno-canto