So how many species of woodpecker (the Picidae) are there on the planet today ? Well, first of all, that depends upon what we define as a species. The various taxonomic authorities differ on this issue, with some recognising certain taxa as species, others recognising the same taxa as sub-species (races). And what about those species that have not been seen alive in the wild for many decades ? Do we include those ? I have put a lot of thought into this question and considered many things as I prepared my forthcoming book: my figure is 239 species. The way things are in the taxonomic world, this figure may well change, increasing or decreasing, by the time a 2nd edition appears. GG. Photo: Adult male Smoky-brown Woodpecker Picoides fumigatus, Costa Rica, by Gerard Gorman.