Cardinal Woodpecker Facts and Photos

Information about the Bird Cardinal Woodpecker

The cardinal woodpecker (Dendropicos fuscescens) is a widespread and common resident breeder in much of sub-Saharan Africa. It is a species found in a wide range of habitats from dense forest to thorn bush.

Like other woodpeckers, this species has a straight pointed bill, a stiff tail to provide support against tree trunks, and zygodactyl or -yoked" feet, with two toes pointing forward, and two backward. The long tongue can be darted forward to capture insects.
This bird measures 14 to 15cm from bill tip to tail tip, and its body shape is typical of a woodpecker. Its back plumage is dull olive in colour, and is marked with paler dots and bands. The underparts are white, heavily streaked with black, and the rump plumage is tawny. The white throat and face are separated by a conspicuous black malar stripe, and the fore crown is olive brown. As with other woodpeckers, the head pattern varies with age and sex. The male has a red hind crown and nape, the female has a dark hind crown and black nape. Juvenile males have a red hind crown and black nape. The small crest is raised when the bird is excited.
Like other woodpeckers, this species is an insectivore. It is frequently seen, and regularly drums softly. The call is a high-pitched krrrek-krrrek-krrrek. It nests in a tree hole, unlined apart from wood chippings.
Like other woodpecker species they usually excavate a new breeding cavity every season, which takes a few weeks. With this species it is not located in the vicinity of the previous season's nest. The entrance hole is oval in shape, and situated about 2 meters from the ground. The glossy white eggs, 1 to 3 in number, are laid on a layer of wood chips. Incubation starts when the full clutch has been laid at one day intervals, and this usually occurs in spring or early summer. Both parents partake in incubation, brooding and feeding. The clutch is incubated for about 12 days, and the chick leaves the nest in some 27 days, when it is immediately independent. The scaly-throated honeyguide is a recorded nest parasite.
The West African subspecies is distinctive. It has streaking on the face and chin, a yellow-buff ground colour to the underparts, and greener upperparts (except the juvenile), with weaker, yellower spotting.

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