Checker-throated Woodpecker Chrysophlegma mentale Feeding Technique

posted in: Feeding | 0

The Checker-throated Woodpecker (Chrysophlegma mentale) is a less commonly observed forest woodpecker. I have had some limited opportunities to watch the species in the past. On 5th March 2023, at the Kledang-Sayong Forest Reserve, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia, I had an extended opportunity to watch an adult female feeding for 15 minutes.

Image 1: An adult female Checker-throated Woodpecker (Chrysophlegma mentale) on a branch of Vitex pinnata (Malayan Teak) tree.


Image 2: Surface gleaning for prey.


The bird was feeding at a large, old, woody, Vitex pinnata (Malayan Teak) tree that had a few dead branches and many epiphytes. The woodpecker was fast moving, going from branch to branch, from low down (~3-4 meters) to almost the top of the tree (~17-18 meters).


The bird did not tap or excavate any sites, as commonly seen with other woodpeckers. The method of feeding was primarily in living or dead branches for prey. At times cling upside-down or contorting the body to gain access (see images). The beak was pushed into the cavity and the tongue used to obtain prey. Some surface gleaning for prey is also done (see image 2) but cavities were preferred. This feeding method is well recognised (Wells 1999, Gorman 2014, Birds of the World 2022). As mentioned in Birds of the World (2022) the feeding follows an ‘erratic path’.

Image 3: The beak was pushed into the cavity and the tongue used to obtain prey.


Image 4: Probing cavities for prey.


Image 5: Contorting the body to gain access to prey.


Image 6: The woodpecker did not tap or excavate any sites but inspected existing cavities for edibles.


When moving from branch to branch the bird would often make a soft call. These appeared to me to be contact calls but I did not see any other Checker-throated Woodpecker nearby. The single note is described as “kyik” (Wells 1999) or “kik” (Birds of the World 2022). A brief recording of some calls is here:  There was a rushing stream nearby making isolating call sounds harder.



1.    Wells, D.R. (1999). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula: Vol. 1 (Non-Passerines). Christopher Helm, London.

2.    Gorman, G. (2014). Woodpeckers of the World. The Complete Guide. Christopher Helm, London, UK.

3.    Kirwan, G. M., P. F. D. Boesman, J. del Hoyo, H. Winkler, D. A. Christie, and N. Collar (2022). Checker-throated Woodpecker (Chrysophlegma mentale), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (B. K. Keeney, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.


Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia


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