Bird O'clock

Discover the Fascinating Life of the Black-necked Woodpecker

The Black-necked Woodpecker, scientifically known as Colaptes atricollis, is a medium-sized bird from the Picidae family, which is native to South America. This stunning bird is characterized by its black and white plumage, distinct black crown, and red nape.

In this article, we will discuss the identification, field identification, similar species, plumages, and molts of the Black-necked Woodpecker.

Identification

The Black-necked Woodpecker belongs to the Picidae family, which comprises of over 240 different bird species. This woodpecker species measures about 28-31 cm in length and weighs around 120-150 grams.

The male and female species are quite similar in appearance, except for their size and bill length. Field

Identification

The easiest way to identify a Black-necked Woodpecker in the field is by its distinct black and white plumage with a black crown, red nape, and white belly.

The bird’s wings and tail are black, and the wings have a white patch. The bill is long, straight, and chisel-like, which makes it ideal for burrowing into tree trunks and branches.

Similar Species

The Black-necked Woodpecker has a few similar species, but they can be differentiated based on their plumage and range. These similar species include the Golden-olive Woodpecker, the Yellow-browed Woodpecker, and the Ochre-backed Woodpecker.

The Golden-olive Woodpecker can be easily mistaken for the Black-necked species due to their similar body size and black and white plumage. However, the Golden-olive Woodpecker has a greenish-yellow shade on its upperparts, and its underparts are olive-yellow.

The Yellow-browed Woodpecker is another similar species that can be confused for the Black-necked Woodpecker. However, the Yellow-browed species has a yellow eyebrow, black upperparts, and yellow underparts and wings.

Lastly, the Ochre-backed Woodpecker looks similar to the Black-necked Woodpecker due to their black and white plumage. However, this species has an ochre-brown back, and its wings have black and white stripes.

Plumages

The Black-necked Woodpecker has two distinct plumages. The adult plumage has a black and white plumage with a black crown, red nape, and white belly.

The juvenile plumage has a brownish-black head, upperparts and wings, and a spotted underpart. The juvenile plumage gradually changes to adult plumage after about 5 months of age.

Molts

The molt of the Black-necked Woodpecker takes place once a year, usually after the breeding season from April to August. During the molt period, the male and female species undergo a complete body and feather transformation.

The adult feathers are replaced, and the juveniles grow new adult feathers. The molt period lasts for about two to three months.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Black-necked Woodpecker is a visually stunning bird species that can be found in various parts of South America. With its black and white plumage, distinct black crown, red nape, and white belly, the Black-necked Woodpecker is easily identifiable in the field.

In addition, understanding the Black-necked Woodpecker’s plumages and molts can provide bird enthusiasts with useful insight into the bird’s life cycle and behavior. , as the article will conclude naturally.

Systematics History

The Black-necked Woodpecker was first described in 1832 by Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot, a French ornithologist. This bird species belongs to the Picidae family, which includes over 240 woodpecker species worldwide.

Over the years, the taxonomy of the Black-necked Woodpecker has undergone several changes due to the discovery of new subspecies and genetic analysis.

Geographic Variation

The Black-necked Woodpecker has a wide range that extends from South America to Mexico. This bird species is also highly adaptable and can thrive in various habitats, including forests, savannas, and urban areas.

Due to its wide distribution, the Black-necked Woodpecker has developed geographic variation in its plumage and morphology. The differences in morphology and plumage have led to the identification of various subspecies.

Subspecies

Currently, there are thirteen recognized subspecies of the Black-necked Woodpecker, which are distributed across the bird’s range. These subspecies are as follows:

1.

Colaptes atricollis atricollis – Found in eastern Brazil. 2.

Colaptes atricollis bivittatus – Found in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Belize. 3.

Colaptes atricollis brasiliensis – Found in eastern Brazil. 4.

Colaptes atricollis chrysoides – Found in northern Argentina and Paraguay. 5.

Colaptes atricollis collaris – Found in western Colombia. 6.

Colaptes atricollis fernandinae – Found in Ecuador and Colombia. 7.

Colaptes atricollis insperatus – Found in the Andean region of Colombia and Venezuela. 8.

Colaptes atricollis marcanoi – Found in Peru. 9.

Colaptes atricollis maugei – Found in northwestern Argentina and southern Bolivia. 10.

Colaptes atricollis melanochloros – Found in southeastern Brazil and Uruguay. 11.

Colaptes atricollis nigricinctus – Found in Brazil and Bolivia. 12.

Colaptes atricollis petrophilus – Found in the Andean region of southwestern Colombia and northwestern Ecuador. 13.

Colaptes atricollis rufipileus – Found in northeastern Brazil. The subspecies of the Black-necked Woodpecker are distinguished mainly by their size, morphology, and plumage.

For instance, the subspecies found in the Andean region have longer bills compared to those found in other regions.

Related Species

The Black-necked Woodpecker is part of the Picidae family, which comprises diverse woodpecker species. It is closely related to various other woodpeckers such as the Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Golden-olive Woodpecker, Yellow-browed Woodpecker, and Ochre-backed Woodpecker.

These species share several physical and behavioral characteristics and may influence each other’s distribution and evolution.

Historical Changes to Distribution

The distribution of the Black-necked Woodpecker has undergone several changes over the years due to various factors such as habitat loss, urbanization, and climate change. For instance, the population of the Black-necked Woodpecker in Argentina has declined due to habitat loss and fragmentation caused by forest conversion for agriculture.

In contrast, the Black-necked Woodpecker’s distribution range has extended to some regions due to urbanization. The species has adapted to urban areas and frequently nests in parks and gardens.

In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Black-necked Woodpecker has expanded its range by colonizing urban parks and gardens. Furthermore, the expansion of agriculture and ranching practices has created suitable habitats for some subspecies of the Black-necked Woodpecker, leading to population growth and range expansion.

For instance, the population of the subspecies found in the Brazilian savanna has increased due to the expansion of agriculture in the region.

Conclusion

The Black-necked Woodpecker is a highly adaptable species that has successfully thrived across South America and Mexico. This bird has developed geographic variation in its morphology and plumage, leading to the identification of various subspecies.

However, the distribution range of the Black-necked Woodpecker has undergone several changes due to various factors such as habitat loss, urbanization, and climate change. It is essential to monitor the distribution of this species and develop conservation strategies to protect its habitats and maintain its population.

, as the article will conclude naturally.

Habitat

The Black-necked Woodpecker is a highly adaptable bird species that can thrive in various habitats, including forests, savannas, and urban areas. This bird species is found across South America and Mexico and can be found at elevations ranging from sea level to over 8,000 feet.

In South America, the Black-necked Woodpecker is found in the Amazon basin, the Brazilian Cerrado, the Chaco region, and the Andean region. The bird’s habitat consists of moist and dry forests, gallery forests, cerrado woodlands, savannas, secondary forests, and urban gardens.

In Mexico and Central America, the Black-necked Woodpecker is found in various habitats, including humid forests, cloud forests, and pine-oak forests. The bird also occurs in urban areas, nesting in city parks and gardens.

Movements and Migration

The Black-necked Woodpecker is considered a non-migratory bird species, meaning that it does not undertake long-distance migrations. However, some subspecies may exhibit some movements in response to seasonal changes or food availability.

In the northern part of the species’ range, where the bird encounters harsh winters, the Black-necked Woodpecker may move to lower elevations in search of food. During the dry season, the bird may also migrate short distances in search of water and food.

Furthermore, there have been reports of the Black-necked Woodpecker spreading to new areas outside its typical range. The bird has expanded its range into urban areas, and this expansion may be due to human activities, such as deforestation and urbanization.

Some birds have also been reported occupying artificial nesting holes like those found on street lamps and other urban infrastructure. The movement of Black-necked Woodpeckers within their range is relatively sparse and poorly documented.

There is a need for more research into their movement patterns to shed light on the factors that influence their movements. The creation of citizen science programs that involve birdwatchers and other enthusiasts could potentially help in documenting the movements of the Black-necked Woodpecker.

Conclusion

The Black-necked Woodpecker is a non-migratory bird species that has a wide distribution range across South America and Mexico. This bird species is highly adaptable and can thrive in various habitats, such as forests, savannas, and urban areas.

Although the Black-necked Woodpecker does not undertake long-distance migrations, some subspecies may exhibit some movements in response to climatic changes, food availability, or urbanization. Further research is needed to understand the movement patterns of the Black-necked Woodpecker to improve conservation efforts for this species.

, as the article will conclude naturally.

Diet and Foraging

Feeding

The Black-necked Woodpecker is primarily insectivorous, although it may also consume small fruits, seeds, and nectar. This bird is an active forager and searches for insects and other prey by pecking and tapping on the bark of trees and branches.

The bird also uses its long, straight, and chisel-like bill to excavate nest cavities and feeding sites. The Black-necked Woodpecker will also use its beak to probe for insects in crevices and cracks in tree bark.

Diet

The Black-necked Woodpecker feeds mainly on wood-boring insects, such as wood-boring beetles, caterpillars, and other arthropods. Ants and termites are also a significant part of their diet, as they can be found in large numbers on trees.

The bird often feeds by working its way up and down tree trunks and branches, pecking at the bark and probing in crevices.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

The Black-necked Woodpecker has a unique metabolism that helps regulate its body temperature during foraging activities. When the bird is active and foraging, its metabolism increases, which generates heat.

The bird will then regulate its body temperature by controlling the rate of blood flow to its feet and bill, which reduces heat loss. By doing this, the Black-necked Woodpecker can maintain a constant body temperature even during cold weather.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

Vocalization

The Black-necked Woodpecker is a vocal bird species and has a wide range of vocalizations. The bird’s vocalizations are used for communication, indicating territorial boundaries, mating, and foraging behaviors.

The Black-necked Woodpecker’s call is a distinctive, short, and high-pitched “peep.” The call may be repeated several times in quick succession and is used to alert other birds to the bird’s presence. During breeding season, the male Black-necked Woodpecker produces a loud and rapid drumming sound on trees and branches to attract a mate.

The drumming sound is produced by the bird rapidly pecking at the wood, creating a resonant vibration that amplifies the sound. In addition to the peep call and drumming sound, the Black-necked Woodpecker may also produce a series of “whinnying” or “laughing” calls.

These calls are produced during courtship between male and female birds and are used to indicate mating readiness.

Conclusion

The Black-necked Woodpecker is a fascinating bird species that exhibits unique feeding behavior and vocalization. The bird is an active forager and feeds mainly on wood-boring insects, such as wood-boring beetles, caterpillars, and other arthropods.

Its metabolism allows it to maintain a constant body temperature during foraging and other activities. The Black-necked Woodpecker is also a highly vocal bird species with a variety of calls and drumming sounds.

Understanding the bird’s foraging behavior and vocalization provides critical insight into the bird’s ecology and behavior. , as the article will conclude naturally.

Behavior

Locomotion

The Black-necked Woodpecker is an arboreal bird species and is highly adapted for moving on trees and branches. The bird uses its strong feet and toes to cling to tree trunks and branches while it works its way up and down the bark.

The bird’s tail feathers function as a prop during climbing and a balance point when perched. When moving on trees, the Black-necked Woodpecker may use its wings for balance while climbing, and it may hop or fly short distances between branches.

The bird may also climb downward on trees and branches by walking with its feet inverted and using its tail feathers for support.

Self Maintenance

The Black-necked Woodpecker has a unique method of self-maintenance that involves preening. The bird uses its bill and tongue to clean its feathers, removing dirt and any parasites.

Additionally, the bird may bath in water sources such as ponds and puddles to clean its feathers.

Agonistic Behavior

The Black-necked Woodpecker exhibits agonistic behavior as part of defending its territory and acquiring resources. Agonistic behaviors include physical displays such as aggressive posturing, chasing, and pecking.

The birds may also vocalize and use other forms of communication, such as drumming, to signal its presence to others.

Sexual Behavior

During the breeding season, the Black-necked Woodpecker exhibits various sexual behaviors to attract mates. The male birds produce loud drumming sounds on trees and branches to signal their presence to potential mates.

The bird may also engage in agonistic behavior with rival males, such as chasing and aggressive posturing, to establish dominance and attract a mate.

Breeding

The Black-necked Woodpecker’s breeding season varies across its range. In South America, it generally takes place between September and February, while in Mexico and Central America, it takes place between April and August.

During this period, the bird selects a suitable nesting site and constructs its nest. The Black-necked Woodpecker’s nest is usually located in tree cavities excavated by the bird using its powerful bill and is lined with wood chips and other vegetation.

The female bird lays between two to five eggs, which she incubates for about two weeks while the male provides food and defends the territory. After hatching, the chicks are fed by both parents until they fledge, which takes about four to five weeks.

The young then leave the nest, and the parents may start a second brood depending on the food availability and other environmental factors.

Demography and Populations

The Black-necked Woodpecker is not considered globally threatened and has a stable population. However, some subspecies face threats such as habitat destruction and fragmentation caused by agriculture and urbanization.

Additionally, some natural areas of the bird’s range have suffered from overhunting and unsustainable logging practices. To manage the population of the Black-necked Woodpecker, it is essential to understand the demography and population trends of each subspecies.

Scientists may use population monitoring techniques such as marking and recapturing, nest recording, and vocalization surveys to determine the population size, density, and distribution of the Black-necked Woodpecker.

Conclusion

The Black-necked Woodpecker is a highly adapted arboreal bird species that exhibits complex behaviors related to feeding, self-maintenance, agonistic and sexual behaviors. During the breeding season, the bird constructs its nest, incubates the eggs, and raises its young until they fledge.

Understanding the bird’s breeding behavior and population demography is critical for managing and conserving the bird’s population, especially those subspecies facing threats from habitat destruction and other human activities. In conclusion, the Black-necked Woodpecker is a fascinating

Popular Posts