Campethera bennettii (Bennett's woodpecker)

Bennettse speg [Afrikaans]; Mbangura (generic term for woodpecker and also applied to Crested barbet) [Kwangali]; Hohodza (generic name for woodpecker) [Shona]; Inconcodzi (generic for woodpeckers) [Swazi]; Ghongoswana (generic term for woodpecker) [Tsonga]; Kôkômere, Phaphadikôta [Tswana]; Bennett-specht woodpecker [Dutch]; Pic de Bennett [French]; Bennettspecht [German]; Pica-pau de Bennett [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Piciformes > Family: Picidae

Campethera bennettii (Bennett's woodpecker)

Campethera bennettii (Bennett's woodpecker)

Bennett's woodpecker male, Kruger National Park, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Bennett's woodpecker female, Kruger National Park, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]
Campethera bennettii (Bennett's woodpecker) Campethera bennettii (Bennett's woodpecker)
Bennett's woodpecker male, South Africa. [photo Francois Dreyer ©] Bennett's woodpecker female, Kunene River Lodge, Namibia. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

The Bennett's woodpecker is found from Tanzania south to southern Africa, where it occurs in deciduous woodland and savanna with tall trees. It feeds mainly on ants, their their eggs and pupae, foraging for them by excavating underground ant nests, scooping them up with its sticky tongue. It uses cavities in trees as nests, making it themselves are using pre-existing holes. It lays 2-6 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes, for 15-18 days. The chicks stay in the nest for 26-27 days, after which they remain dependent on their parents until the next breeding season.

Distribution and habitat

Occurs from Tanzania south to Botswana, Zimbabwe, north central Namibia, Mozambique and north-eastern South Africa. It generally prefers deciduous woodland and savanna with tall trees, especially with Broad-leaved miombo (Brachystegia), Zambezi teak (Baikiaea plurijuga) and Burkea (Burkea africana).

Distribution of Bennett's woodpecker in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Food 

Feeds mainly on ants, their eggs and pupae, doing most of its foraging by excavating underground ant nests, scooping them up with its sticky tongue. It also eats beetles and termite alates. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

Breeding

  • It uses cavities in trees as nests, either made by the breeding pair or by other woodpeckers (such as the Bearded woodpecker); the latter is more commonly recorded.
Campethera bennettii (Bennett's woodpecker) Campethera bennettii (Bennett's woodpecker)

Bennett's woodpecker female at its nest to feed chicks, Sericea farm, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

Bennett's woodpecker male peering out of its nest entrance. [photo Neil Gray ©]
  • Egg-laying season is from August-February, peaking from October-December.
  • It lays 2-6 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for 15-18 days.
  • The chicks stay in the nest for 26-27 days, after which they remain dependent on their parents until the next breeding season.

Threats

Not threatened.

References

  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 

 

 

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