Olivaceous piculet

Picumnus olivaceus

SUBFAMILY

Picumninae

TAXONOMY

Picumnus olivaceus Lafresnaye, 1845. OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Picumne olivâtre; German: Olivrücken-Zwergspecht; Spanish: Carpinterito Olicáceo, Telegrafista.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS 3.5-3.7 in (9-10 cm), 0.39-0.53 oz (11-15 g); tiny, short, pointed bill; olive above, black cap with white spots, dusky cheeks with white streaks; pale olive to dusky below with light flank streaking. Male with yellow-orange streaked crown; female with no yellow-orange.

DISTRIBUTION

Atlantic slope of Central America from northeast Guatemala south into northern South America to Colombia, northwest Venezuela, western Ecuador to northwest Peru.

HABITAT

Humid tropical evergreen forest and forest edge, including plantations; often in cutover areas; seems absent from mature forest; lowlands to about 7,000 feet (2,100 m).

BEHAVIOR

Constantly moving, almost nuthatch-like, moving over small branches both high and low within the forest, but favoring thickets and vines and avoiding large trunks and limbs. The Spanish common name telegrafista comes from the resemblance of its feeding percussion blows to the sound of Morse code being tapped out by telegraph.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Feeds largely on ants, especially those that tunnel in dead twigs; also takes other insects and their eggs and larvae.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Nest cavity excavated in soft wood, in a low stub, by both members of a pair. Pair roosts together in the cavity prior to nesting. Clutch of 1-3 white eggs incubated for about 14 days by both parents; young fed by both parents; fledge at about age 24-26 days.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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