Species of the Week: Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Golden-fronted Woodpecker / Carpintero Frentidorada

Golden-fronted Woodpecker / Carpintero Frentidorada

There are over two hundred species of woodpeckers worldwide. Mexico has nearly 40, and we can find 9 species in the Yucatan.  There is one which frequently visits a tree outside my window, and it took me a while to identify it, because even though there is nothing golden about it, it is a Golden-fronted Woodpecker.

Woodpeckers feed primarily on insects that infest trees just below the bark, and thus help keep forests healthy.

They tend to be monogamous- although there are exceptions- and it is the males who usually build the nest by digging out a hollow cavity in a tree trunk, a process which can last up to a month.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker / Carpintero Frentidorada

Golden-fronted Woodpecker / Carpintero Frentidorada

Recently I observed a rather odd behavior: one of these birds flew down from a tree onto the ground, where it spread its wings and lowered its head, as in the following photograph.  It kept that position for a couple of minutes.  After researching a bit, it turns out this behavior is called “anting“, and many different birds do it to cover themselves with fluids secreted by ants to take advantage of their antibacterial and antiparasitic properties.  Who knew?

David Nuñez is a photographer and author of a couple of books on the wildlife of the Mexican Caribbean, as well as a founding member of Mexiconservación

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