Great slaty woodpecker

Mulleripicus pulverulentus

SUBFAMILY

Picinae

TAXONOMY

Picus pulverulentus Temminck, 1826, Java and Sumatra. Two subspecies.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Pic meunier; German: Puderspecht; Spanish: Pico Pizarro.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

19-20 in (48-50 cm); 12.7-20 oz (360-563 g). The largest Old World woodpecker; "lanky" in appearance; male is gray on top of the head and hind neck, with a slight crest, a pale red "moustache," yellow-white throat with red-tipped feathers, and the rest of the body dark gray, darkest on the wings and tail; female is similar, but lacks the red; immature is dark gray tinged with brown.

DISTRIBUTION

Northern India to southwest China, Southeast Asia to Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and Philippines. M. p. pulverulentus, Malaya-sia, Sumatra, Riouw Archipelago, Java, Borneo, North Natuna Islands, east to Palawan; M. p. harterti, India, Nepal, east to southwestern China and Indochina.

HABITAT

Extensive forested areas, including second growth, up to about 1,000 feet (300 m).

BEHAVIOR

Nonmigratory; often seen in pairs or small (family?) groups; voice described as "almost honking" to a distinctive whinny; flight is less undulating than smaller woodpeckers. Displays include head-swinging with both wings and tail extended; drums loudly.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Forages mostly in tall trees, where it excavates larvae of wood-boring beetles and other arthropods, but also feeds on ants on the ground and occasionally hawks flying ants and other insects.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Nests from March through August; both sexes excavate nest cavity, but male dominates; nest is generally high (27-135 ft; 8.2-41 m), dug into very large stubs or branches. Clutch includes 2-4 eggs; no data on incubation period or age at fledging; both sexes incubate and care for young; young may remain with parents until next nesting season.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened, but uncommon to rare (e.g., Java and Sumatra), and threatened locally by deforestation.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

None known, but probably eaten when accessible. ♦

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