Sunday, September 18, 2011

The woodpeckers of Chichicaxtle

male Ladder-backed Woodpecker
In the southwestern United States, Ladder-backed Woodpecker is a desert species, associated with cactus. Here in Veracruz, it is fairly common in open, disturbed lowland habitat, such as the hedge rows surrounding the cane fields of Chichicaxtle (where cactus is also commonly found). This and two other resident woodpecker species are found around the observation tower in Chichi, the other two being Golden-fronted and Lineated Woodpeckers.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker
Golden-fronted is by far the most common of the three. A typical Melanerpes woodpecker (like the Red-bellied Woodpecker familiar to birders in the eastern US), it is a vocal and conspicuous species. Here in central Veracruz (and in much of Central America) one cannot go very far in disturbed habitats without encountering a few individuals.

male Lineated Woodpecker
Less vocal outside the breeding season but still regularly heard and seen is Lineated Woodpecker, a large and colorful species with a wide range in the Neotropics. We sometimes see and more often hear this species from the observation tower in Chichi. A few years ago, we had it nesting in our yard in Chichi. We have also had it at the new, possibly temporary count site in Cardel, atop the Hotel Estación, which is situated slightly more peripheral than the legendary Hotel Bienvenido.

male Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Of the three, I think Ladder-backed Woodpecker is the one that's most easily overlooked. It does not vocalize very frequently nor fly around much. I don't think it is rare in the area but its retiring habits make it the one least frequently encountered.

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