Okinawa woodpecker

Sapheopipo noguchii

SUBFAMILY Picinae

TAXONOMY

Picus noguchii Seebohm, 1887, Okinawa. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Pryer's woodpecker; French: Pic d'Okinawa; German: Okinawaspecht; Spanish: Pico de Okinawa.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

12.2-13.8 in (31-35 cm). An earth-toned bird; the male has a rusty red cap from the forehead to the nape; female has a black cap from forehead to nape; both have a gray throat and belly with deep red tones on the back and wings; prominent white spotting on primary feathers; black at edge of cap accents a lighter gray-brown face; rump red, tail black; immatures are duller and grayer.

DISTRIBUTION

Found only in the central mountain range of Yambaru, the northern part of the island Okinawa, Japan.

HABITAT

Restricted to old-growth subtropical evergreen broadleaf forest; breeding range seems limited by a need for large dead limbs for nest and roost cavity excavation.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

At times considered a pest and damaging to shade and fruit trees. More detailed knowledge of interrelationships between

BEHAVIOR

A highly vocal species that spends most of its time foraging at lower levels in the forest.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

In spite of its rarity, the Okinawa woodpecker seems to have a broad foraging niche, searching for arthropods on larger branches and trunks, among canopy leaves, on downed wood, and in leaf litter on the ground; also opportunistically feeds on other small animals and on fruit.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Nesting activity begins as early as February, but typically in March and continues through mid-June. It excavates nest cavities primarily in old, partially dead Castonpsis cuspidate and Machilus thunbergii trees. Typically one or two nestlings are raised. No other details available.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Critically Endangered due to habitat destruction and population fragmentation. Population estimates since 1950 have ranged from 40 to about 200 birds. In 1977, undisturbed forest was limited to about 1,100 acres (450 ha) and has since declined. The Okinawa woodpecker has been declared a "Natural Monument" and "Special Bird for Protection" by the Japanese government. The population remains highest in a military training area that is off-limits to civilians. Some expansion into secondary forest was noted in the late twentieth century.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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