Saturday, 21 December 2013




(and everyone else, too, I suppose)

Eurasian Green Woodpecker Picus viridis, Budapest, Hungary, by Gerard Gorman

Friday, 6 December 2013

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Picid in Focus: Stripe-breasted Woodpecker

Adult male Stripe-breasted Woodpecker Dendrocopos atratus. This species is locally common in wooded uplands in SE Asia. Females lack red on the crown. Photo taken at Chiang Dao, NW Thailand, November 2013, by Gerard Gorman.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

How Many Woodpecker Species Are There ?

So how many species of woodpecker (the Picidae) are there on the planet today ? Well, first of all, that depends upon what we define as a species. The various taxonomic authorities differ on this issue, with some recognising certain taxa as species, others recognising the same taxa as sub-species (races). And what about those species that have not been seen alive in the wild for many decades ? Do we include those ? I have put a lot of thought into this question and considered many things as I prepared my forthcoming book: my figure is 239 species. The way things are in the taxonomic world, this figure may well change, increasing or decreasing, by the time a 2nd edition appears. GG. Photo: Adult male Smoky-brown Woodpecker Picoides fumigatus, Costa Rica, by Gerard Gorman.  

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Woodpeckers of the World ... on track

Well, still some work to do, but here is a preview of the cover (it might change before publication) of my forthcoming book. Watch this space ! And this space too: WOODPECKERS OF THE WORLD

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Sunda Woodpecker and the Wallace's Line

Sunda Woodpecker Dendrocopos moluccensis is found in SE Asia in Malaysia (mainland and islands) and Indonesia (Great and Lesser Sundas). Interestingly the grandis race of this species is the only woodpecker that occurs south of the Wallace's Line, in the Lesser Sunda Islands. This photo of a nominate race female was taken in Sabah, Borneo by Neil Bowman in 2010.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Picid in Focus: Philippine Woodpecker

Philippine Woodpecker Dendrocopos maculatus. Endemic to the Philippines - this great photo of an adult female was taken by Alain Pascua in October 2011, in Marikina City. See more of Alain's wonderful bird images at:

Monday, 30 September 2013

Photographers - A Thank You

I'd like to thank all the photographers who contributed their images of woodpeckers for possible inclusion in my forthcoming book WOODPECKERS OF THE WORLD - A PHOTOGRAPHIC GUIDE. I cannot say just yet which photos will be included, as there are many to select from, but a big thank you to all. The book will be edited and formatted during in the coming months and hopefully released next summer. Gerard Gorman. This male White-bellied Woodpecker Dryocopus javensis confusus was photographed by Subic Bay, Zambales, Philippines, by Alain Pascua.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Picid in Focus: White Woodpecker

Here is a nice shot of a White Woodpecker Melanerpes candidus taken in the Pantanal, Brazil, by Adam Riley (Rockjumper Birding Tours).

Monday, 9 September 2013

Andean Flicker puna race

Andean Flicker Colaptes rupicola puna. There are three races of this species - puna is very buff and males have red on the hindneck/nape. This bird is a male, note the red in the malar stripe.Photo taken in central Peru, November 2012, by Gerard Gorman.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Picid in Focus: Imperial Woodpecker

Here is a species Campephilus imperialis that I have not got a shot of in the wild. In fact, in recent times no one has even seen this wonderful woodpecker, the largest picid known to exist. Endemic to Mexico it is, sadly, probably extinct. Photo of a male taken in the Vienna Natural History Museum. 

Saturday, 24 August 2013

The huge Great Slaty Woodpecker

Great Slaty Woodpecker Mulleripicus pulverulentus. Cambodia, January 2013, by Neil Bowman. Presuming that the Imperial Woodpecker of Mexico is sadly extinct, this SE Asian species is the largest woodpecker on the planet at around 50cm in length. 

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Sapsucker wells

Wells of Yellow-belled Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius in a palm tree. These precise holes are created in rows by the birds to access sap, an important food source in both breeding and wintering areas. Photo by Gerard Gorman, Bay of Pigs, Cuba, March 2014.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

The Wryneck name

There are two species of wryneck (Jynx) in the world. This Eurasian Wryneck J.torquilla is doing what wrynecks do, twisting its neck, hence the name. Photo by Yann Cambon, France, 2013.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

The malar stripe

The malar is a stripe that runs from the lower edge of the lower mandible below the cheek and down the sides of chin and often towards the throat. It should not to be confused with the moustache which is placed higher on the face and runs from the gape of the bill or slightly above it. The malar is a common plumage feature in woodpeckers and often a key marking in separating the sexes. In those species that have a malar, the male's is often coloured whereas the females is not or is lacking. This Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus is a male as it has a classic broad black malar; the female of this species lacks the malar. Photo taken in Cuba by Gerard Gorman.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Picid in Focus: White-throated Woodpecker male

Male White-throated Woodpecker Piculus leucolaemus. Males have all-red crowns and red malar, females have red only on the nape. Photo by Gerard Gorman, Afluentes, Peru, November 2012.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Picid in Focus: Black Woodpecker juvenile

Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius juvenile female. Note the black fore-crown and red hind-crown - juvenile males have an all-red crown. Photo by Yann Cambon taken in Dordogne, France.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Picid in Focus: Eurasian Wryneck

Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla. There are two species of wryneck and they both differ from 'true' woodpeckers in many respects. For example, wrynecks do not excavate their own nest-holes but rather use those of other species or natural cavities. Photo by Gerard Gorman, Hungary, May 2013. 

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Primary and Secondary Cavity Users

Most woodpeckers excavate their own holes in trees in which to breed and roost. They are 'primary cavity users'. Many other birds that cannot create such cavities, but need them as nesting sites, depend upon woodpecker holes. Such species are called 'secondary cavity users'. Here is an example: a young Tengmalm's Owl (aka Boreal Owl) looks out from a Black Woodpecker hole. In some cases the distribution and even breeding success of secondary cavity users is linked to woodpeckers. Photo by Thomas Hochebner taken in Austria. 

Monday, 29 April 2013

Sounds: Northern Flicker

This race Colaptes auratus chrysocaulosus is endemic to Cuba.

A female making a typical sharp call

Recorded near the Zapata Swamp, Cuba, 2013, by Gerard Gorman.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Picid in Focus: Crimson-bellied Woodpecker

Male Crimson-bellied Woodpecker Campephilus haematogaster. The sexes are fairly similar - females have a pale stripe down the sides of the neck which males lack. Photo taken in Peru in November 2012 by Gerard Gorman.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Sounds: Cuban Green Woodpecker

This species is endemic to Cuba.

A male making typical call

Recorded in the Zapata Swamp, Cuba, 2013, by Gerard Gorman.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Picid in Focus: West Indian Woodpecker

Male West Indian Woodpecker Melanerpes superciliaris. Note that all the crown is red, females have black rear-crown and red only on the nape. Photo by Gerard Gorman, Cuba, March 2013.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Picid in Focus: Cuban Green Woodpecker

Cuban Green Woodpecker Xiphidiopicus percussus. Endemic to Cuba. Photo of this female (note the black forecrown, males have all of the crown red) taken by Gerard Gorman near Los Palacios in March, 2013.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Picid in Focus: Golden-olive Woodpecker

Male Golden-olive Woodpecker Colaptes rubiginosus. Note the red malar stripe on the cheek, which females lack. This is a quite widespread species of C and S America. Photo by Gerard Gorman taken in Peru, November 2012.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Picid in Focus: Fine-spotted Woodpecker

Fine-spotted Woodpecker Campethera punctuligera female. Male has all-red crown and red malar stripe. A typical species of open, wooded savanna in West and Central Africa. Mole NP, Ghana, Gerard Gorman.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Genus: Sasia

This genus hosts three Old World species, one in Africa, two in Asia. Though geographically separated, these species are similar in many aspects of behaviour and share some distinct morphological features such as an obvious orbital ring of flesh and round cross-section of the upper mandible. Yet, some unusual morphological differences also exist: the two Asian species have 10 tail feathers and 3 toes, lacking the first toe, while the African has 8 tail feathers and 4 toes, with first digit thin and reduced. Photo of this African Piculet Sasia africana taken in Ghana, January 2013, by Gerard Gorman. 

Friday, 4 January 2013

Social Woodpeckers

Many species of woodpecker are rather solitary, foraging and roosting alone and only interacting with others of their kind when breeding or when in dispute. However, some are social species, foraging in pairs or family parties, roosting together and even having cooperative breeding systems. Several species of Melanerpes and Colaptes in the Americas, Ground Woodpecker in South Africa and Great Slaty Woodpecker in SE Asia, for example, can all be regarded as social species. This picture shows Yellow-tufted Woodpeckers Melanerpes cruentatus a species that is always seen in noisy, gregarious groups. Pairs nest in close proximity to each other and nestlings are fed by the several members of the group. Photo: Peru, November 2012, Gerard Gorman.