Bird of the Week, December 14, 2012

Beautiful Woodpecker


Beautiful Woodpecker by Benjamin Skolnik


This aptly-named Colombian woodpecker has a bold, red and yellow blaze along the back of its head and neck, cream-colored underparts with black barring, and a long, slightly curved, black bill. It was once considered a subspecies of the Golden-naped Woodpecker of Central America, but was declared a separate species in 2005 based on distinct differences in appearance and range.


Populations of the Beautiful Woodpecker appear to be stable, although it is considered scarce and local throughout its limited range, and faces threats from forest loss in these areas. It is able to feed from a variety of fruiting trees and is found throughout agricultural landscapes, particularly on shade cacao and coffee farms. It drills into decaying trunks and branches for termites, beetles, and other insects, and catches them on the wing as well.


One reliable site to see Beautiful Woodpecker is the Pauxi Pauxi Reserve in the eastern Andes, where birding groups regularly visit to find this species, along with other threatened birds such as the Saffron-headed Parrot and Black Inca. Pauxi Pauxi was recently expanded to 4,470 acres through several key land purchases, and forms part of the 25-mile Cerulean Warbler Corridor established by ABC and Colombian partner Fundación ProAves.




Photo: Benjamin Skolnik; Range Map, NatureServe