Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Syrian Woodpecker: Individual Plumage Variation

This female Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus was photographed by Josip Ledinscak in Nasice, Croatia, in December 2011. This species is easily confused with the co-occurring relative Great Spotted Woodpecker D. major and the two will even interbreed. Note that the undertail colour on this bird is rather red, not pink as it should be for a classic Syrian. But I do not believe that this indicates a hybrid. I believe that it is merely individual variation in plumage. However, there is always the chance that birds like this are descendants of ancestors that hybridized generations ago and that mixed features re-appear in subsequent generations, but this cannot be proved in the field. In fact, many Syrians and Great Spotteds show such atypical features in areas where they do not co-occur and thus cannot have hybridized.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Urban Woodpeckers

Some woodpeckers in Europe can be found in urban habitats. Parks, churchyards and gardens, for example, can provide suitable habitat for some species. Green Woodpecker will visit lawns to feed on ants, Great Spotted Woodpecker readily visits garden bird-feeders and Syrian Woodpecker not only forages but often nests in settlements. However, some other species, such as White-backed Woodpecker, rarely occur away from forests proper. This photo shows a Syrian Woodpecker atop a roadside utility pole in a village in north-east Hungary.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Woodpeckers of Europe Talks in the UK.

I am giving 3 talks in the UK at RSPB local groups this week. I will be at Liverpool (Dec 12th), Wigan (Dec 13th) and North Staffs, Stoke (Dec 14th). Title of my illustrated lecture is Woodpeckers of Europe. If you are in those areas on those dates then see you there! Gerard Gorman.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Gallery: Syrian Woodpecker male

Male Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus, Apaj, Hungary, December 2011. Gerard Gorman.