Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Syrian Woodpecker: unusual plumage

The more I study woodpeckers, the more unusual things I find. European woodpeckers, especially the Dendrocopos species, the so-called "pied woodpeckers" often show unusual, atypical plumage features. Sometimes, the are so striking that it is hard to decide whether a bird is a hybrid of some kind or simply atypical. Most of the unusual plumages I have seen concern Great Spotted Woodpecker and Syrian Woodpecker. The photo here shows an adult female Syrian Woodpecker, taken at a nest-hole at Apaj, Hungary, by Bence Kokay, in spring 2007 (more on this nest in subsequent post). Note that the bird has a small red spot on the hindcrown, low down on the left side. Of course, female Syrians should not show any red on the crown, though juvenile females do. Are these red feather tips remnants of the bird's juvenile plumage ? Or is there another explanation ?

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