Antics of the Banded Woodpeckers

posted in: Feeding strategy | 2

“On 28/04/2008, I went to the Singapore Botanic Gardens just to check out the bird life there, generally quite quiet, finally ended up at the Ginger Garden where I was met by three noisy Banded Woodpeckers (Picus miniaceus) hard at work, hopping from branch to branch.


“Their reason for hopping from branch to branch was to check out the ones that were rotten, and being a rotten branch, there would always be a chance that there would be a scrumptious grub for lunch, hidden inside. As one can see from the pictures the twigs are being inspected with great care and in a fastidious fashion.


“Once a rotten twig was chosen, the woodpecker would then go about pecking away to break up the twig in order to get at the grub.


“Sometimes breaking up the twig was not enough as the grub could be hidden inside the harder parts, however being boring grubs they tend to leave behind a tiny tunnel. This being so, the woodpecker would now and then use it’s very long and thin tongue to fish the grub out.”

Woodpecker forages by hammering on tree trunks and branches, especially rotten ones. Pounding may disturb insects in the wood, resulting in them coming to the surface. The bird also chisels away, creating holes through which it can insert its long tongue to grab at the insects. All the hammering can take a toll on the woodpecker’s head, thus the bones and muscles of the head tend to be highly specialised to absorb the impact.

KC Tsang
May 2008

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