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White-headed woodpecker

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White-headed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis) found in southeastern North America, where it inhabits the vast expanses of swampy forests. The color of this woodpecker is strict. The main color of its plumage is thick black, from the nape of the neck on the sides of the neck there are two wide white stripes connecting on the back, so the middle of the back is also white. The wing, with the exception of the humeral feathers and the outer edge of the three outer primary wing, is white. At the back of the head there is a large beautiful crest of elongated feathers - the male is bright red, the female is black. The eyes are bright yellow and shiny, the legs are lead gray, the beak is light, ivory. For the color of the beak, this woodpecker was named. The contours of the body of the white-billed woodpecker are also noteworthy: his neck is thin, making his head seem disproportionately large. In size, it is a very large woodpecker: the length of the bird exceeds 0.5 m. White-billed woodpeckers live in pairs, which probably do not decay all their lives. Both birds of the pair are always together, but even at a distance it is not difficult to distinguish them: the female is more vociferous, but more careful than the male. The breeding season begins in March. White-billed woodpeckers are very careful and stay in the most secluded corners of the forest during the nesting period. The hollow is always arranged in the trunk of a living tree, usually in oak, always at a considerable height, often the inlet of the hollow is located under a large bough or branch, which protects against the flow of water into the hollow when it rains. Both male and female take part in hollowing out the hollow. The masonry consists of 5-7 pure white eggs placed directly on the bottom of the hollow. In the southern areas of the range, these birds breed chicks twice a season, in the north they have only one clutch. By its habits, the white-billed woodpecker is somewhat different from the rest of the woodpeckers. His flight is extremely beautiful and, like other woodpeckers, wavy. But, flying from one tree to another, the bird first climbs to the top of the tree on which it was located, and, flying from it, does not flap its wings, and, opening them, plans down, it describes a smooth arc, admiring the beauty of its plumage of the most demanding artist . This woodpecker does not like to fly long distances and prefers to climb the trunk and branches of trees and jump from one closely standing tree to another. Climbing a tree, the white-eyed woodpecker constantly makes a clear, clean and pleasant cry of "pet-pet-pet." He repeats this three-syllable cry so often that one has to doubt whether the bird is silent for at least several minutes during the day. His voice can be heard per kilometer. The woodpecker produces its food by carefully examining the trunks and large branches of trees. Starting at the bottom of the tree and climbing in spiral lines around the trunk, the bird examines the cracks and crevices of the bark and hammer them, looking for insects. The strength of this bird is very great: with one blow of its beak it beats off pieces of bark and chips up to 17–20 cm long, and when it finds a tree that has dried up and is damaged by insects, it knocks down the bark from 2-3 m2 of the trunk surface in a few hours and thus in 2-3 days completely sanders a tree. Larvae, pupae, and adult beetles living in the bark and wood, as well as open-living insects living on the surface of trunks, most often become prey for white-billed woodpeckers. In late summer and autumn, these birds eat the berries and fruits of wild trees. People often destroy these beautiful birds for the sake of their extremely beautiful head with a bright crest and ivory beak. Travelers eager for various “memorabilia” seek to buy the head of a white-billed woodpecker as an exotic souvenir from those places where this bird is an integral part of the landscape of terrible and at the same time wonderful swamps. Currently, the white-billed woodpecker is a very rare bird: it has already disappeared in most of its range

White-billed woodpecker

The white-billed woodpecker - Campephilus principalis - is a large woodpecker known until recently (50 cm, about 500 g).

In the southeastern states of the United States, a white-billed woodpecker (Campephilus principalis) nested in the past, the only representative of the genus Sharp-crested woodpeckers in North America, the other 10 species of which inhabit Central and South America. This huge bird, almost half a meter long, has a very modest black and white color, on the back of the head elongated feathers form a pointed crest - black in females and bright red with a black top in males. The main habitats of these woodpeckers are tall virgin forests in river valleys and in swamps with an abundance of drying trees, from under the bark and in the woods of which birds produce various insects, mainly woodworm larvae, although they will eat berries and other fruits willingly by autumn. The biology of the white-headed woodpecker has been studied quite well thanks to the research of J. Tanner, who in the mid-30s was asked by the Audubon Society to conduct research on this species, which was already on the verge of extinction at that time.

The pairs of white-billed woodpeckers are probably constant, and partners always stay close to each other, searching trees on forage territory in diameter about 7-8 km. In the period from January to April, the male and female jointly hollow out the hollow in the trunk of a living tree, most often oak, at a high altitude from the ground. Birds also have hollows for overnight stays, which they constantly use, especially during the non-breeding season. In full laying, up to 4 white eggs, although with early nesting (January - February) there are only 1-2 eggs. Both birds hatch alternately for almost 20 days, and then they feed the chicks for almost another 5 weeks.

The once mainland subspecies of the white-billed woodpecker (Cf. principalis) inhabited dense forests from southeastern Oklahoma and eastern Texas to southern North Carolina and the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic. The Indians used to hunt these woodpeckers, using their crest together with the beak for decoration, but the threat to the existence of the species came along with deforestation and especially the destruction of giant trees in the Mississippi basin and other rivers. By 1885, the white-billed woodpecker had disappeared in the northern regions of its former range. At the end of the 30s of our century, it became known that it was preserved only in South Carolina in the swampy forests near the river. Santi, in eastern Louisiana, in a section of the Singer Track Virgin Forest and several sites in Florida. According to J. Tanner, the total number of white-billed woodpeckers at that time did not exceed 25 individuals. After 10-15 years, the Singer Track forest was destroyed, and nesting pairs in most famous places in Florida disappeared. Only a few reports coming occasionally from the northwestern part of Florida and from some areas of the Texas coast indicate that the white-billed woodpecker on the mainland has not yet died out.

In addition to the mainland, a special subspecies of the white-billed woodpecker is Cf. bairdi also inhabited forests in Cuba. Its biology is similar to that of the nominative subspecies, but, in addition to the lowland forests, this woodpecker was also found in the forests along the mountain slopes. Deforestation and clearing of areas for sugar cane plantations, as well as hunting for woodpeckers at the beginning of our century, led to a sharp reduction in the number and range of these birds. By the mid-1950s, less than 20 Cuban white-billed woodpeckers remained, and after another 20 years the population had halved. Now the fate of this woodpecker, as well as the mainland subspecies, is entirely dependent on the person.

The extraction of white-billed woodpeckers is prohibited everywhere. Certain isolated habitats are protected in southern Texas, Florida, and eastern Cuba (Kupeyal and Haguani reserves), but in some of them the birds have not nested for a long time, so special measures are needed to keep the white-headed woodpecker in the list of birds of the world's fauna.

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