Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Woodpecker signs: tracks

In Europe only one woodpecker species, Green Woodpecker, is really terrestrial. Grey-headed Woodpecker is partly so, Wryneck and Black occasionally work on the floor when gathering ants, but all other species rarely forage on the ground itself, though some, such as White-backed and Gresat Spotted, often descend to low levels to work on fallen logs. The only realistic situation in which to find woodpecker tracks (i.e. footprints) is after snowfall. Woodpeckers only hop in mud by accident. The first thing to remember, of course, is that all European woodpeckers except Three-toed (sic) have four toes, two pointing forwards and two back. Nine out of the ten European woodpeckers have a syndactyl formation of the toes (the second and third toes point forwards in parallel and toes one and four backwards). Three-toed Woodpecker has the first toe missing, with just toe four pointing backwards and toes two and three forwards). In the rare event that woodpecker tracks are found on the ground (in mud or snow) the quality of the tracks will depend upon the ground conditions.

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