Ground pecking Laced Woodpecker

“It was reported in an earlier posting that a pair of Laced Woodpecker (Picus vittatus) had descended onto the ground; probably to catch what seemed to be a worm. Normally, woodpeckers would forage for food on tree trunks; pecking on wood to detect food that are concealed beneath the outer covering. Rarely are they seen on the ground.

“In March 2011, I chanced upon a family of four Laced Woodpeckers. They were all pecking on the ground, foraging for food that were in the ground. This was my second encounter of Laced Woodpeckers on the ground. In my previous encounter, a pair of Laced Woodpeckers was seen pecking on the ground near some exposed roots. It was unclear whether they were pecking on the roots or on the ground as the woodpeckers flew off before I could approach closer.

“During the more recent encounter, I was able to get as close as about 4 metres away. However, due to an overcast sky, and as the woodpeckers were under shade of a tree, the video footage was shot in less than ideal lighting condition. The adults were not shown in the footage as they were behind the tree trunk. The recorded footage showed two juveniles – a male and a female. Unlike the previous encounter, the woodpeckers were clearly seen to be pecking on the ground.

“The pecking on the ground continued for more than 3 minutes. The parents flew off first, leaving the juveniles, which continued pecking. Later, the juveniles flew into a tree where they continued to peck; this time normally – on the tree trunk (top: left male, right female).”

Kwong Wai Chong
8th May 2011

2 Responses

  1. Benjamin Lee

    Wai Chong,

    We have also recorded this ground-foraging behaviour of the laced woodpecker in our parks. Apparently, this behaviour may be more common than we think, at least for this species of woodpecker. It has been recorded in two bird books. Our account of the “grounded” woodpecker is found here:

    Thanks for sharing!

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