A drum­roll, please

Talk of the Town - - Classified Advertisements - ... with Tim Cock­croft

HELLO all! Wel­come to an­other edi­tion of the Chirp.

This week we are go­ing to have an­other drum­ming ses­sion... I think you know where this is go­ing.

The car­di­nal wood­pecker is of­ten said to be one of south­ern Africa’s com­mon­est wood­peck­ers. Al­though that may be true to a large ex­tent, in our im­me­di­ate area I still come across its olive and Knysna cousins far more fre­quently.

I usu­ally find the car­di­nal wood­pecker to be more com­mon in ex­otic stands of trees, such as pines and gum trees, al­though I still en­counter it in gar­dens and nat­u­ral bush in some places. It is one of the smaller wood­pecker species, be­ing marginally smaller than an olive wood­pecker. The male and fe­male are sim­i­lar, ex­cept for the red hind­crown of the male, which is brown on the fe­male. The rest of the fea­tures are sim­i­lar, with the dark malar stripe (“mous­tache”), streaked un­der­parts, pale face, spot­ted wings and barred back.

As men­tioned above, pairs live in ar­eas with larger trees, es­pe­cially ex­otics (at least in our area), where they peck on the bark in search of in­sects. They will scram­ble along a branch up the tree or to the edge of the branch be­fore hop­ping or fly­ing to the next. They have a rather “dip­ping” flight, with wings beat­ing very rapidly. The usual call, most of­ten heard, is a high-pitched “prree prree prree”, with the alarm be­ing a rapid twit­ter­ing sound.

Both calls can be heard in my record­ing at https://www.xeno­canto.org/424182

They also give short bursts of very rapid drum­ming, al­most like a “drum­roll” on a hol­low branch, for ter­ri­to­rial pur­poses. As with other wood­peck­ers, they nest in holes in trees, ex­ca­vated by the bird.

So folks, that it for now. I am avail­able for bird­watch­ing tours in and around Port Al­fred. You may call me on 072-314-0069.

TOP NOTCH: The car­di­nal wood­pecker can usu­ally be found in ex­otic stands of trees, such as pines and gum trees

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