Friday, 7 September 2007

Black Woodpecker: general ID

Measurements: Length 45-47 cm. Wing span 67-73 cm. Thus by far the largest woodpecker in Europe being 50% larger than Green Woodpecker and almost twice the size of Great Spotted Woodpecker. Larger than Jackdaw Corvus monedula and almost as big as Rook C.frugilegus. Not as bulky as these corvids but often compared to them because of a mainly all-black, glossy plumage. In certain light, adults have a bluish tinge to the plumage, particularly on the upper-parts. The primaries occasionally have a brownish tinge and the under-parts often appear greyer than the upper-parts. When the plumage is worn it is less glossy, more matt and charcoal-grey. The white eye is often striking. In the hand it can be seen that the iris is yellowish or cream. Has a massive, dagger-shaped bill, broad at the base and tapering to a sharp, chisel tip. This impressive tool is around 5cm long, some 60% of the total skull length. The bill is greyish-white with the culmen ridge and tip indigo or black. Legs and feet are dull grey. Has a long, slim neck and angular, pointed nape that together create a hammer-headed appearance. Note in the photo how Black Woodpeckers can sometimes look rather crow-like, especially when in flight. Photo taken in May 1999, Sweden (Göran Ekström).

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