Sunday, 24 July 2011

Status: Great Slaty Woodpecker - Vulnerable

This magnificent species Mulleripicus pulverulentus is the biggest picid in the Old World. It occurs in south-east Asia from the Himalayas to Indonesia. It is a social, gregarious woodpecker which forages in extended family parties of from 2 to 12 individuals, some of which also have roles as helpers at the nest. It's conservation status was changed from Least Concern to Vulnerable in 2010 after it became clear that a drastic decline in numbers had occurred in recent decades. This was mainly due to the loss of primary forests in some parts of its range and it is not inconceivable that this decline has been even more severe than estimated. Thanks to Martjan Lammertink for this fine photo: for more see PicidPics. 

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Conservation: Helmeted Woodpecker Dryocopus galeatus

FUNDING NEEDED ! Although rare and declining, the Helmeted Woodpecker can still be saved if the old forests that it prefers are conserved and if forest conditions for it are improved in logged forests. To find out the ecological needs of the Helmeted Woodpecker and to implement habitat restoration for it and associated old-forest species, a five year conservation project is now being launched by Martjan Lammertink. It is a joint project by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Research Council of Argentina (CONICET), and the ParanĂ¡ Pine Project, a local NGO in Misiones province, Argentina. The project needs funds to cover radio tracking equipment and field expenses and to pay field assistants and Argentinean students. Fundraising from foundations for a little known Neotropical woodpecker is hard, and Martjan would very much appreciate donations from readers of this blog for the project. This photo of a female was taken in the Cruce Caballero Provincial Park, Misiones, Argentina by Martjan Lammertink: see PicidPicsFor more information, or to donate, please contact Martjan at:

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Picid in Focus: Ladder-backed Woodpecker Picoides scalaris

Ladder-backed Woodpecker is found in the south-west of the USA and Central America.  It is polytypic with 8 subspecies recognised. Desert-dwelling it replaces the closely related Nuttall’s Woodpecker in arid habitats where it forages in trees, bushes, cacti and on the ground for insects. It also eats cactus fruits. Photo of this female (note the black crown, males have red) taken by by Steve Shunk in the USA.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Status: Helmeted Woodpecker - Vulnerable

This species (on average the smallest of the Dryocopus) is one of the rarest woodpeckers in the Neotropics. It occurs only in South America's Atlantic Forest, one of the world’s most endangered wooded ecosystems, and has seriously declined in number due to loss of habitat. Today probably less than 12% of the Atlantic Forest region remains. The global population estimate is 2500-9900 and it is regarded as Vulnerable. This recent article is essential reading: Lammertink, M., A. Bodrati & R. E. Santos (2011): Helmeted Woodpecker Dryocopus galeatus: a little-known Atlantic forest endemic. Neotropical Birding 8: 45-51. The photo here of an adult male Helmeted Woodpecker Dryocopus galeatus. Cruce Caballero Provincial Park, Misiones, Argentina, was taken in August 2009 by Martjan Lammertink: see PicidPics.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Picid in Focus: Williamson's Sapsucker Sphyrapicus thyroideus

Most Williamson's Sapsuckers are migratory, breeding in the north of the USA and Canada and wintering further south as far as Mexico. It is also one of the most sexually dimorphic woodpeckers in terms of plumage, with the sexes visually very different. Males are well marked and coloured and females much duller. Photo of this male taken by Steve Shunk, Oregon, USA.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Picid in Focus: Yucatan Woodpecker Melanerpes pygmaeus

Male Yucatan Woodpecker (note the red on the crown, female has red only on the nape). This resident species occurs in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, Belize and Guanaja off mainland Honduras. There are 3 races. Relatively little is known about its biology. Photo by Pete Ferrera taken in Mexico in January 2008.