A crow-sized woodpecker that is primarily black, with white highlights and a red crest. Males have an entirely red crown and a red moustachial streak. Both sexes have horizontal black and white stripes on the face and a white stripe that extends down the neck. Seen from below in flight, the wing lining is white, and a white line extends along each side of the throat to the base of the bill. The loud, resonant drumming sounds something like a banging hammer.