Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Woodpecker signs: general

Most birds are located visually or by call, however some birds leave visual clues that betray their presence. These signs include footprints, feathers, and pellets and, of course, nests. Perhaps more than any other bird family, woodpeckers leave a variety of obvious signs that indicate that they are present in an area. Holes in trees, feeding marks on stumps, logs and trees, anvils, food stores, wood-chips on the ground beneath holes, all of these are a result of woodpecker activity. Many of these signs are unique to certain species, indeed in some cases they can be described as diagnostic. Knowledge of such signs, together with tree and habitat preferences, can lead to a confident assertion of which woodpecker species are present in a given area. In winter, when woodpeckers are less vocal, such signs are very useful clues. Indeed, winter is an excellent season in which to search for, and study, such signs as most trees are without leaves and so signs are easier to discover. It is difficult to state for sure which species is responsible for the worked tree in the photo here on the left. Black, Great Spotted and White-backed Woodpecker are three candidates. It is also possible that two or three of these species contributed to the resultant hacked out stump. The shot was taken in an old forest in Lithania (Juozas Miskinis).

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