Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS witnessed a male Banded Woodpecker, also known as Banded Yellownape (Chrysophlegma miniaceus), excavating a cavity on 20th December 2009 10-12 metres up the trunk of a dead jungle palm. For the next hour and a half, the bird made little headway due to the fibrous nature of the stem. He did not have an opportunity to return for observation until much later when the cavity was completed.
On10th July 2010, he encountered another male Banded Woodpecker excavating a cavity on the trunk of a dead durian tree (Durio zibethinus) (below). The durian plantation was at the fringe of the Kledang-Sayong forest reserve. The cavity was approximately 7-8 meters up the trunk. The woodpecker pecked away, calling out intermittently as he worked on his cavity.
Amar returned a number of times to check on progress but there was none – the excavated hole was unchanged. Finally on 31st July, the hole looked significantly enlarged. Wells 1999 noted that ‘nest-holes may be worked intermittently 1-2 months before they are finally occupied.’
Banded Woodpecker is reasonably common around the urban areas of Ipoh, Malaysia. “We have seen it mating in the garden and watched it excavates a nesting hole. It often makes a loud piercing call, reminiscent of a Serpent Eagle. The call is infrequently repeated and often made in the early mornings or late evenings. The time lapse between the calls can be quite long, from 10-15 seconds to minutes. I have always assumed this to be a territorial call. According to Amar, “Wells 1999 calls this ‘…. loud advertising-call, given with up-tilted bill, in a single screaming kwier …’ while Robson 2002 calls it a ‘keek’.”
“On the evening of 15th June 2010 and morning of 16th June 2010 I noticed the local male Banded Woodpecker making very frequent loud piercing calls but in a group of calls, 4-7 calls one after another. Lighting was not good, but I was not able to identify any threatening male or hear a response. There was no female to be seen and did not spot any mating. Robson 2002 states that ‘Male territorial call is a series of 1-7 mournful, falling peew or kwee notes’”
The male that made many of these unusually frequent calls appeared all bunched up, tilting his head back when making the calls.