Return of Bird of the Week: Crimson-crested Woodpecker

Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Pantanal, Brazil

A very large and very gaudy woodpecker, the Crimson-crested is also very widely distriuted, ranging from Panama to northern Argentina, including all of the Amazon basin. It’s also, you will likely agree, aptly named. It’s one of eleven members of the Campephilus genus. North America’s sole species in Campephilus was the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, which was driven to extinction years ago.

Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Darien, Panama

Both of the photos are of females; the male’s head is almost entirely red, without the white stripe shown in these females. Someday, WC hopes to get a decent photo of a male. In the meantime, this will have to do:

Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Ecuadoran Amazon

WC includes this pretty soft image of a male in Ecuador just to give you a fuzzy (sorry) idea of the male’s appearance.

There are several striking (sorry again) things about this species. First, the feet, which are remarkably large, even for a large bird. The second is this species’ drumming, which sounds like an axe striking a tree, and not a small axe, either. In the second photo, the nest cavity, excavated cooperatively by the male and female, is immediately above the female’s head. Shortly after the photo was taken, the male came out of it like a rocket, without warning, and nearly as quickly, the female moved in.

This species is in slow decline, through loss of habitat. As the Amazon is ravaged by fire, clearing for farming and construction of new roads, the mature forests that are the species’ primary habitat are lost. Despite estimated population declines of almost 20% over the lat fifteen years, it’s classified as a species of Least Concern by the IUCN.

For more bird photographs, please visit Frozen Feather Images.