Out-of-the-hole: Rufous Woodpecker Roosting on a Tree Trunk

Ulhas Anand

October 7, 2023

In April 2023, after two continuous days of Pelagic birding out on a medium-sized boat off the coast of Mangalore, we decided to try to find our land legs back. When an opportunity to do some late evening birdwatching presented, we trooped on with our head torches into some hard-to-reach scrub and degraded forest. We heard a few frogs, a couple of nocturnal birds, some roosting butterflies, and what seemed to be a wild Pig or something similar that got disturbed.

As we were shining our head torches looking up at trees, we came across a sight that left us scratching our heads and wondering whether we were indeed seeing things right. What we saw was a Rufous Woodpecker (Micropternus brachyurus) roosting up on a tree and in an upright position!

One would have thought that Woodpeckers, being primary hole-nesting birds that excavate their nest holes, roost inside such carved-out hollows, but instead we saw this bird hanging on in an upright position on a dead tree stump. Particularly in this species, a strong bird-insect nesting association can be found, with this bird almost always building its nest by excavating a hole within the nesting colonies of Acrobat Ants (Crematogaster).

While the roosting behaviour on live Pine trees in Woodpeckers, with insufficient cavities, in North America has been observed, there is insufficient data on birds in our region. This sighting is especially interesting as this species exhibits a strong commensal association with ant colonies for nesting.


Date: April 24, 2023

Place: Mangalore

To cite this page: 2023. Out-of-the-hole: Rufous Woodpecker Roosting on a Tree Trunk. https://wp.me/pehmXN-PH. Accessed on 2023-10-15.

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