Banded Woodpecker: Feeding and preening

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An earlier post describes how an adult Banded Woodpecker (Picus miniaceus) collected ants from an umbrella tree (Schefflera actinophylla) to feed its recently fledged chick.

The woodpecker was back recently (left). I am not sure whether it was the earlier adult or the grown up fledgling that returned on the morning of 11th September 2007. It was a cloudy morning, the sky appearing threatening. But there was no rain.

I detected movements in the umbrella tree. It was the woodpecker, busy harvesting ants from the narrow, elongated leaf stipules that provide shelters to ants.

Perching on the leaf stalk, the bird poked its pointed bill under the sides of the stipules to get at the ants (below, arrowed). It was doing this for about half an hour, moving up and down the branches.

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Once satisfied with all the ants it consumed, the bird flew to a nearby tree and rested comfortable on an exposed branch. Then it began to preen itself (below). First it preened its breast feathers, then the wings, before attending to its feet. It then took care of the tail feathers and in the process, no doubt got oil from the preen gland to apply to the feathers. Oil from the preen gland helps make the feathers last longer.

Feathers on the head are preened with the help of its feet. The bird rubs oil on its feet with the bill and then scratches its head. However, I did not observe this.

Input and images by YC.

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