Thursday, 27 October 2011

Imperial Woodpecker on Film

An article in the The Auk (128 (4): 671-677, 2011) entiltled FILM DOCUMENTATION OF THE PROBABLY EXTINCT IMPERIAL WOODPECKER (CAMPEPHILUS IMPERIALIS) is essential reading for all picid enthusiasts. The Imperial Woodpecker of Mexico was the largest woodpecker in the world until it became extinct (probably) in the late 20th century. This paper describes a recently discovered 16-mm colour film of the species taken in 1956 by the late William L. Rhein. More on this story and paper here:

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Woodpeckers as keystone species

Animals that play important roles in the lives of others in an ecological community are known as keystone species. Many woodpeckers are keystones, as some birds, mammals and invertebrates benefit from the cavities that they create. Indeed, some species can be highly dependent upon woodpeckers for nesting or denning sites. Birds and mammals that do not excavate holes themselves, but use those made by others for nesting or roosting, are called secondary cavity-usersIn some cases the local populations of secondary-cavity using birds can even be determined by the availability of woodpecker holes. Birds that use woodpecker cavities include titmice, flycatchers, hirundines, ducks, kestrels, owls, doves, parrots, trogons and even large species of toucans and hornbills. Photo: Tawny Owl Strix aluco in a Black Woodpecker hole in Hungary (Laszlo Becsy).

Monday, 17 October 2011

Sounds: Iberian Green Woodpecker

The sharpei race of Eurasian Green Woodpecker Picus viridis may warrant full species status. It occurs in Spain, Portugal and the very south of France, and in some of the literature is already called Iberian Woodpecker or Iberian Green Woodpecker.

Contact call of Picus viridis sharpei

Recorded in Navarra, Spain, in October 2011, by Gerard Gorman.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Picid in Focus: Knysna Woodpecker

Knysna Woodpecker Campethera notata is endemic to South Africa. The sexes differ slightly with males (as in this photo) having an all-red-crown and nape and a red malar stripe, whilst female has red only on the hind-crown and an indistinct black malar. It is classed as 'near threatened' due to having a restricted range. The species is found in coastal, lowland, evergreen woodlands, scrub, bush and thickets, especially with euphorbia and milkwood, mainly along the Eastern Cape but also northwards into southern KwaZulu-Natal. Photo by Warwick Tarboton.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Habitats: Bamboo - Bambuseae

There are around 1450 species of bamboo (an evergreen member of the grass family) around the world. Many occur in tropical regions, mainly in SE Asia but also the Americas and Africa, and some in temperate regions. As a habitat for picids, bamboo may not immediately spring to mind, however many piculets and some true woodpeckers forage and nest in bamboo. Others, such as the appropriately named Bamboo Woodpecker Gecinulus viridis of south-east Asia, specialise in this habitat. For many species bamboo is also a favoured substrate upon which to drum as it resonates very well, especially when mature or dead. Photo taken in northern Malaysia, Gerard Gorman.