Wednesday, 6 December 2017

A Saguaro Boot

This is a ‘saguaro boot’. Let me explain what it is. Two species of woodpecker, Gilded Flicker (Colaptes chrysoides) and Gila Woodpecker (Melanerpes uropygialis) have adapted to live in arid desert environments in the SW USA and NW Mexico. Both species excavate nest holes in the fleshy trunks and limbs of saguaro cacti, but the plants treats these intrusive cavities as wounds and react by secreting a lignin sap that hardens around the hole chambers, effectively making protective sealing shell. Cleverly, the woodpeckers do not use the holes until the following year, waiting until the sap has dried out and the scar tissue of the chamber wall has become solid and watertight. When a cactus dies, its outer flesh rots away, but the tougher woody interior and the callus around any holes remain. These shells are angular in shape, keeping the form of the entrance and the chamber of the woodpecker cavity. These so-called ‘saguaro boots’ can be found on the ground amongst the debris of dead cacti. Interestingly, the boot in this photo is a double one! Thanks to Noel Snyder for sending me this remarkable image from Arizona, USA.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Eurasian Wryneck

Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla, Le Teich, Gironde, France, Sept 6th, 2017. A great image taken by Yann Cambon.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Freckle-breasted Woodpecker

Recently fledged male Freckle-breasted Woodpecker Dendrocopos analis, Java, September 2017 (Gerard Gorman).

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Black Woodpecker at the nest hole

A great image of a female Black Woodpecker (Dryocopus martius) at the nest hole entrance. By Peter Csonka, Tata, Hungary.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Andean Flicker on the cover

The latest issue of Neotropical Birding, magazine of the Neotropical Bird Club, has a great photo of female Andean Flicker (Colaptes rupicola) on the cover.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Knysna Woodpecker male

Knysna Woodpecker Campethera notata, adult male (note the red malar stripe). This species is endemic to South Africa. Photo by Gerard Gorman, Oribi Gorge, SA, February 2017.