The wonderful world of olive woodpeckers
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!