restricted access Woodpeckers
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BeardedWoodpecker L: 25 cm (10") A large, long-billed woodpecker with a brown back, barred belly, and strong black pattern on the head; the crown is black in the female and red and black in the male . Although widespread and resident throughout Kruger’s lush savannah it is more solitary and less frequently encountered than other woodpeckers . It gives sharp “kwip-kwip-kwip” calls, and has a characteristic ‘drum’ that lasts about five seconds, beginning fast and then slowing . Woodpeckers have stiff spine-like tail feathers to provide support when perched on a tree trunk, and unusual feet, with two toes pointing forwards and two pointing backwards, to give a firm grip. An extremely long, barbed tongue and sticky saliva help to capture pupae, larvae and insects exposed when probing wood and bark. Woodpeckers: 1 male female 112 Bennett’sWoodpecker L: 23 cm (9") This medium-sized woodpecker is the only one in Kruger with spotted rather than streaked or barred underparts . It is pale beneath, and green with white spots above . It is a fairly common breeding resident throughout Kruger, preferring mature broadleaved woodland and avoiding drier scrub . Ants, termites and larvae form the bulk of the diet . Key features to look for when identifying a woodpecker are whether the breast is streaked, spotted or barred, and the facial pattern. BIRDS OF BROADLEAVED WOODLAND AND CAMPS male female 113 Golden-tailedWoodpecker L: 21 cm (8") Most of Kruger’s woodpeckers have ‘golden’ tails, so this is a poor identification feature . The Golden-tailed Woodpecker is a mid-sized woodpecker with a streaky breast and throat . In comparison, the rarer Bennett’s Woodpecker (page 113) has spotted (not streaked) underparts, and the much smaller Cardinal Woodpecker has a solid black moustachial streak . Golden-tailed Woodpecker is a common resident throughout Kruger’s woodlands, where it joins flocks and excavates tree bark for insects . A strange shrieking “wheeaa-aaaa” call often betrays its presence . Woodpeckers: 2 male female 114 CardinalWoodpecker L: 15 cm (6") A small, compact woodpecker, with heavily streaked underparts and a solid black moustachial streak . The nape is red in the male and black in the female . The larger Golden-tailed and Bennett’s Woodpeckers (page 113) have more red on the crown, and longer bills . It is common throughout Kruger’s woodlands where its trilled rattle call reveals its presence as it forages, either alone or in flocks of other birds, along small dead branches and twigs that are ignored by larger woodpeckers . Woodpeckers have several adaptations that allow them to be masters of their environment. They have strong bills and modified brain cavities that have evolved to be able to absorb the mechanical stress of vigorous pecking and drumming. Woodpeckers also have long, sticky and barbed tongues that help them to extract their prey. Most importantly, they have strong and barbed tail feathers which act as a prop when they are perched, and modified feet with two toes pointing forwards and two pointing backwards (an unusual arrangement called zygodactyly), which helps the bird to remain stable when foraging, and to climb vertically up tree trunks. BIRDS OF BROADLEAVED WOODLAND AND CAMPS male female 115 ...