Monday, 27 December 2010

Picid in Focus: Little Green Woodpecker Campethera maculosa

This easily overlooked species has a restricted range in western Africa in Senegal, Sierra-Leone, Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau, Ghana and Liberia. It was also recently found in Gambia. It inhabits forest edges, open, fragmented woods, riverside forest and logged areas and clearings with scattered trees. Photo: Female Little Green Woodpecker, Gambia, November 2010, Vaughan Ashby.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Habitats: Southern Beech Forest

The mature forests of southern beech (Nothofagus species) in Patagonia, southern Argentina are a key forest habitat of the southern hemisphere. Two woodpecker species are found here, Magellanic Woodpecker Campephilus magellanicus and Striped Woodpecker Veniliornis lignarius. Indeed most of their range is restricted to such forests, particularly stands of Lenga Nothofagus pumilio.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Genus: Dinopium

The Dinopium genus contains 4 species, all found in south-east Asia: Olive-backed Woodpecker D.rafflesii (2 subspecies), Himalayan Flameback D.shorii (2 subspecies), Common Flameback D.javanense (6 subspecies) and Black-rumped Flameback D.benghalense (4 subspecies). There is great variation in plumage between the various subspecies. Photo: Male Black-rumped Flameback, Northern India, Szabolcs Kokay.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Habitats: Pre-Puna

The Pre-Puna of Argentina and Bolivia is a scrub and shrub dotted grassland and desert belt which lies between the higher, barren Puna proper and the forested zone lower down. This treeless landscape, often with gorges and rocky slopes, may seem to be an unlikely habitat for woodpeckers and indeed just one picid species, the highly terrestrial Andean Flicker Colaptes rupicola, has established itself in this niche. This photo of a typical Pre-Puna landscape is from the Parque Nacional Los Cardones in NW Argentina.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Picid in Focus: Green Woodpecker Picus viridis

The range of this species occurs almost entirely within the Western Palearctic where it is widespread and locally common. Four races generally accepted. It is the most terrestrial picid in this region. It is also referred to as Eurasian or European Green Woodpecker. Photo: Male (note red in malar stripe), England, David Hosking.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Literature: The Guadeloupe Woodpecker

This excellent monograph is one of the very few books published on a single picid species. It was researched and written by Pascal Villard and published in 1999 by the Societe d'Etudes Ornithologiques de France (S.E.O.F.) but nevertheless is in English. The book is particularly strong on biology and ecology. Besides a detailed "all-you-need-to-know" text on Melanerpes herminieri, there are also many superb colour photos, drawings, maps and graphs. There is also a section on other island dwelling Melanerpes species.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Picid in Focus: Scaly-bellied Woodpecker Picus squamatus

This species has a fragmented range in southern-central Asia, occurring mainly in uplands in Afghanistan, Pakistan, northern India and Nepal. Two races are described, nominate: squamatus and flavirostris. Sometimes called Scaly-bellied Green Woodpecker or Large Scaly-bellied Woodpecker. Photo: Female, Himalayan foothills, Northern India, Szabolcs Kokay.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Genus: Colaptes

This genus is composed of 12 species (though taxonomy is debated and 9 is also claimed) all found in the Americas. In English 6 species are known as "flickers": Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus, Gilded Flicker Colaptes chrysoides, Fernandina's Flicker Colaptes fernandinae, Chilean Flicker Colaptes pitius, Andean Flicker Colaptes rupicola, Campo Flicker Colaptes campestris. Some, such as fernandinae, pitius, rupicola, are highly terrestrial. Photo: male Northern Flicker by Conservatory Water, Central Park, NYC, USA, Bill Benish.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Picid in Focus: Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus

Syrian Woodpecker. Adult male. This monotypic species occurs from the Middle East northwards into Europe as far as Austria and the Czech Republic in the west, Poland in the north and the Ukraine in the east. In the 20th century the species expanded its range significantly moving into central Europe from the Balkans. Syrian Woodpeckers are not birds of closed forest, rather they inhabit open, lightly wooded secondary habitats such as orchards, vineyards and gardens. Photo: Bogacs, Hungary, Nigel Sprowell.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Genus: Melanerpes

This genus is currently composed of 23 New World species. Many are highly social, even breeding in cooperation. The genus also includes island endemics such as Guadeloupe, Puerto Rican, Jamaican and Hispaniolan Woodpeckers. Photo: Red-bellied Woodpecker Melanerpes carolinas female, taken in Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx, New York City, USA, Bill Benish.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Picid in Focus: Pileated Woodpecker Dryocopus pileatus

Adult male Pileated Woodpecker D.pileatus. This is the largest picid in North America reaching up to 48cm in length. It is a food specialist that forages mainly on carpenter ants though it also eats wood-boring beetle larva and sometimes even fruit and nuts. Photo: St. Mary's Parish, Louisiana, USA, Bill Benish.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Picid in Focus: Grey-capped Woodpecker Dendrocopos canicapillus

Grey-capped Woodpecker. Female. This small species (up to 16cm long) ranges from the Himalayas to China, Korea and SE Asia as far south as Borneo and Sumatra where it inhabits a wide range of wooded habitats. It is also variably plumaged with several races (11 currently described). It is sometimes called Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker. Photo: Himalayan foothills, Northern India, Szabolcs Kokay.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Taxonomy: Celeus and Micropternus

Recent studies have concluded, on the basis of molecular evidence, that the Celeus genus comprises 11 species as Rufous Woodpecker (which occurs in SE Asia) is not related to the New World species. It is placed in the monotyopic genus Micropternus and is thus Micropternus brachyurus.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Genus: Sphyrapicus

The genus Sphyrapicus comprises 4 species, commonly named the sapsuckers. They are: Williamson's Sapsucker Sphyrapicus thyroideus, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius, Red-naped Sapsucker Sphyrapicus nuchalis, Red-breasted Sapsucker Sphyrapicus ruber. As the name suggests, sapsuckers feed primarily on tree-sap. All species breed in North American and are (to varying degrees) migratory, some moving southwards as far as Central American in winter. Photo: Male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Central Park, NYC, USA, Bill Benish.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Genus: Celeus

This genus is comprised of 11 species, some stunningly beautiful, often with well-developed crests. They are Neotropical species: Cinnamon Woodpecker Celeus loricatus, Waved Woodpecker Celeus undatus, Scaly-breasted Woodpecker Celeus grammicus, Chestnut-coloured Woodpecker Celeus castaneus, Chestnut Woodpecker Celeus elegans, Pale-crested Woodpecker Celeus lugubris, Blond-crested Woodpecker Celeus flavescens Cream-coloured Woodpecker Celeus flavus, Rufous-headed Woodpecker Celeus spectabilis, Kaempfer's Woodpecker Celeus obrieni, Ringed Woodpecker Celeus torquatus. Photo: Female Blond-crested Woodpecker, Atlantic Forest, Brazil. 

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Habitats: Atlantic Rainforest

The Atlantic Forest or "Mata Atlantica“ stretches along the Atlantic coast of Brazil and inland to eastern Paraguay, the province of Misiones in northeastern Argentina, and into Uruguay. The biodiversity of the Atlantic Rainforest is very high. However, it is estimated that it is just 7% of the size that it was 500 years ago. It once covered 1.23 million km2, today just 99 thousand km2 remain. Many species of plant and animal are endangered or under threat in the Atlantic Forest. Amongst the Picidae, the often ellusive Helmeted Woodpecker Dryocopus galeatus, which occurs very locally in eastern Paraguay, north-east Argentina and south-east Brazil, is an example. This species has suffered badly from the felling of forests and is now classified as vulnerable

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Genus: Dryocopus

The genus Dryocopus comprises seven species: three in the Old World and four in the New WorldWhite-bellied Woodpecker D.javensis has a fragmented distribution in south-east Asia with many distinct subspecies; Andaman Woodpecker D.hodgei is restricted to the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean; Black Woodpecker D.martius is widespread in Eurasia; Pileated Woodpecker D.pileatus is found in North America; Lineated Woodpecker D.lineatus is fairly widespread in Central and South America; Helmeted Woodpecker D.galeatus occurs locally in eastern Paraguay, north-east Argentina and south-east Brazil and is classified as a vulnerable species; Black-bodied Woodpecker D.schulzi occurs in southern Bolivia, central Paraguay and parts of Argentina, where it is localised. Photo: Male Black Woodpecker, Hungary.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Picid in Focus: Brown-capped Woodpecker Dendrocopos moluccensis

Brown-capped Woodpecker. Female. The taxonomy of this tiny picid is complex. There are two distinct groups of races which are sometimes considered to be separate species: eastern moluccensis and western nanus. Indeed, several vernacular names can be found in the literature including Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker and Indian Pygmy Woodpecker for the nanus group and Sunda Woodpecker and Malaysian Pygmy Woodpecker for the moluccensis group. Photo: nanus, Northern India, Szabolcs Kokay.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Picid in Focus: Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus

Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker. Adult male and juvenile male still in the nesting cavity. Formerly regarded as one species "Three-toed Woodpecker" Picoides tridactylus was split into two species, P. tridactylus and P. dorsalis, following the AOU in 2003. P. dorsalis is now called American Three-toed Woodpecker. Photo: Estonia, Mati Kose.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Picid in Focus: Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos minor

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Female. This Eurasian species is one of the smallest woodpeckers in that region. Females are truly "pied woodpeckers" as they are black and white and show no red or other colours at all. Photo: Hungary, Lászlo Nehézy.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Genus: Jynx

The genus Jynx comprises two species: Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla and Red-throated Wryneck Jynx ruficollis. Both are found in the Old World. The former is a migratory Eurasian species and the latter a bird of sub-Saharan Africa. Photo: Bulgaria, Mladen Vasilev. 

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Picid in Focus: Magellanic Woodpecker Campephilus magellanicus

Magellanic Woodpecker. Male. This large woodpecker can be regarded as a keystone species in the Austral temperate forests of South America. Photo: Tierra del Fuego National Park, Patagonia, Argentina, Doug Kirwin.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Picid in Focus: Magellanic Woodpecker Campephilus magellanicus

Magellanic Woodpecker. Female. A monotypic species endemic to the Austral temperate forests of Chile and Argentina. Photo: Lago del Desierto, Patagonia, Argentina, Bill Benish.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Picid in Focus: Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius

Black Woodpecker. Adult female. A Eurasian species. Photo: Danube Delta, Romania, Daniel Petrescu.