The won­der­ful world of olive wood­peck­ers

Talk of the Town - - News -

Greet­ings ev­ery­body! This week we are re­turn­ing to the won­der­ful world of wood­peck­ers.

One of the most com­mon wood­peck­ers in our area is the olive wood­pecker. It is found in forests, wooded kloofs, gar­dens and any­where it can find trees where it can ex­ca­vate its nest­ing holes or peck around in the bark for grubs.

As the name im­plies, it is olive-green pretty much all over, ex­cept for the head, which is grey.

The Afrikaans name would be ex­pected to be a di­rect trans­la­tion, “olyf­speg”, but it’s not. Rather, it is called the “gryskop­speg”, or “grey-headed wood­pecker”. The male can be told from the fe­male by the red crown.

It is quite an­i­mated as it makes its way around the tree trunks, boughs and branches, of­ten mov­ing about in al­most a com­i­cal side-to-side mo­tion. The olive wood­pecker has two calls. The most one most of­ten heard is a “WEE-dek, WEE-dek”, as can be heard in my record­ing at The other call is an ex­cited “wik wik wik”, which you can hear at

Once I watched a pair ex­ca­vat­ing the nest hole. The male would go right into the hole and spend ages throw­ing out wood chips that had fallen in with all his peck­ing. The fe­male would also have her turn.

Un­for­tu­nately, how­ever, just as they were fin­ish­ing off, a pair of black-col­lared bar­bets came along and de­cided to put into prac­tice a bit of “nest hole ex­pro­pri­a­tion without com­pen­sa­tion”, and even­tu­ally the wood­peck­ers were gone. Just as it seemed the bar­bets were go­ing to set­tle in, they too dis­ap­peared.

Well, that is all for now, folks. Please re­mem­ber I am avail­able for bird­watch­ing tours in the Port Al­fred area. My num­ber is 072-314-0069 if you want to call for more in­for­ma­tion. Un­til next time . . . happy bird­ing!

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