Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur

Sitio realizado por aficionados a la observación de aves desde 10 de enero 2006

Reproduction - Checkered Woodpecker

Order: Piciformes - Family: Picidae

The Checkered Woodpecker is an annual resident at the reserve. It is also known as "carpinterito" for its small size compared to the other two woodpeckers at the reserve, the Green-barred Woodpecker and the Field Flicker. It is a bird easy to locate because of its habits and its call. It is 15 cm long and exhibits an attenuated sexual dimorphism. The male has a red line on the nape and a brown crown streaked white. The female lacks the red line on the nape and the crown is plain brown. To tell male from female facilitates the monitoring of the actions. A typical posture: to stick the head out of the nest and see what happens. The photos and the video belong to the same nest. They were taken between September and November 2009.

Carpintero bataraz chico/Checkered Woodpecker© Carlos Gonzalez Ledo Carpintero bataraz chico/Checkered Woodpecker© Mirta Ragonesi
Carpintero bataraz chico/Checkered Woodpecker© José Luis Merlo 0/9 When the nest is seen for the first time, there is already a well-rounded hole with an opening of 5 cm. The nest is built in a "tipa" branch where former holes can be observed. The construction is in an advanced state where the cavity is spacious enough to turn round in the inside. Male and female take turns to excavate the nest. From the outside drilling is heard. Then the woodpecker looks out with its bill loaded with chips. They are scattered right there with a shake of the head followed by a quick glance. They remove several mouthfuls of chips. 3/10 Work goes on in the nest. 17/10 There is no more building activity. Incubation has certainly begun. Male and female take turns to sit on eggs and changeovers take place at the nest.

24/10 There is great activity in the nest. Parents go in with food which is quicky delivered. They provide live food: plenty of worms. The approach to the nest is gradual. They make two recognisance stops before going in. They are always on the alert. If something calls their eye, they fly away so as not to expose the location of the nest. First they perch on a nearby branch where they stay for a few seconds. With a short flight they reach a second position, always below the entrance to the nest, where they also stay for some seconds. From there they hop up the tree and dive headfirst. Done with the delivery, they resume food search. It sometimes occur that one adult arrives right after the other and has to wait outside since there is not enough room for everybody. The father cleans the nest. It removes the feces stuck in chips and gets rid of them far from it.

Carpintero bataraz chico/Checkered WoodpeckerFirst stop at a nearby branch
© Pablo M. Fernandez
Carpintero bataraz chico/Checkered WoodpeckerAnother stop below the entrance
© José Luis Merlo
Carpintero bataraz chico/Checkered WoodpeckerTaking rubbish away
© José Luis Merlo

6/11 The nest "sounds". The noises of chicks claiming for food are heard. The adults are extremely busy with food provisioning. They bring worms, spiders, insects, etc. Nestlings are still not seen, but evidently they are growing. As parents reach the doorway, they look for the best way in. Bigger chicks imply more cleaning to do, always done by the male.

Carpintero bataraz chico/Checkered WoodpeckerPassing each other on the way
© José Luis Merlo
Carpintero bataraz chico/Checkered WoodpeckerFemale delivering a piece of food
© José Luis Merlo
Carpintero bataraz chico/Checkered WoodpeckerMore cleaning is necessary
© Amelia Besana

14/11 A chick looks out emitting the typical adult call. Tow cues which show the maturation of the locomotive and vocal system. Unluckily it is not possible to see the developmental stage of wings. The nestling shows a distinctive red crown. The rest of the body can not be fully appreciated, but it seems to look like the adult´s. Since it stays in the doorway food is given right there. Parents must be careful not to be caught by the desperate pecks of the young. It is not clear whether there is a second nestling. On some occasions the female gets into the nest with food. There might be another less active nestling.

Carpintero bataraz chico/Checkered Woodpecker© José Luis Merlo Carpintero bataraz chico/Checkered Woodpecker© Amelia Besana

15/11 Only one nestling looks out. Strikingly it changes the call. While its parents are away for food, it utters the adult call. As they show up, ithe nestling changes the call into a previous weaker one. 20/11 The nest is inactive. Neither voices nor movements of the family are observed.

Video taken between September and November 2009 © Roberto Ares