Black woodpecker

Dryocopus martius

SUBFAMILY

Picinae

TAXONOMY

Picus martius Linnaeus, 1758, Sweden. Two races recognized. OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Pic noir; German: Schwarzspecht; Spanish: Pito Negro. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

17.7-22.4 in (45-57 cm); 9.2-13 oz (260-370 g). Crow-sized; black, pale bill, and whitish eyes; male has raspberry red crown; female a red nape; juveniles similar to adults, but duller, looser-textured plumage.

DISTRIBUTION

Cool-temperate Eurasia; from western Europe north to the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia and east to Japan and Kamchatka. D. m. martius, most of range except for southwestern China and Tibet; D. m. khamensis, southwestern China and Tibet.

HABITAT

Mature coniferous, mixed, or deciduous forest. A pair normally needs 750-1,000 acres (300-400 ha) of forest.

BEHAVIOR

Resident; solitary or in pairs; spring drumming on resonant limb or stub is very loud and low in tone; climbs by "hopping" up a trunk or limb; flies with direct "crowlike" flight.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Feeds mostly on ants and their larvae and pupae, but also takes larvae of wood-boring beetles, occasionally other insects, nuts, and seeds, and rarely fruit.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Courtship may begin in January, but nesting is primarily late March to May; nest usually placed high in a large stub. About 75% of nests are in decayed but living trees. Clutch size 3-5 eggs; incubation lasts 12-14 days; young usually fledge at 27-28 days. Both parents incubate and care for young; young are fed by regurgitation.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened; many populations increased during the late twentieth century, though there were local declines associated with habitat fragmentation and loss.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

None known, except as a symbol of "wildness." ♦

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