Dendropicos griseocephalus (Olive woodpecker) 

[= Mesopicos griseocephalus

Gryskopspeg [Afrikaans]; Mbangura (generic term for woodpecker and also applied to Crested barbet) [Kwangali]; Olijfspecht [Dutch]; Pic olive [French]; Goldrückenspecht [German]; Pica-pau-de-cabeça-cinzenta [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

Dendropicos griseocephalus (Olive woodpecker)  Dendropicos griseocephalus (Olive woodpecker) 

Olive woodpecker, Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Olive woodpecker, Queen Elizabeth Park, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. [photo Alan Manson ©]

The Olive woodpecker has two isolated subspecies in Africa - one is in Central Africa, and the other is endemic to South Africa, living in evergreen forests. It forages in the upper canopies of trees, probing pecking branches, and licking them up with its barbed tongue. Both sexes excavate the nest, which is usually a oval-shaped hole in the trunk of a tree. Here it lays 2-3 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes, for roughly 15-16 days. The chicks are cared for by both parents, leaving the nest at about 24-26 days old. The juveniles return to the nest to roost for about 3 months, at which point they become fully independent.

For information about this species, see www.birdforum.net/opus/Dendropicos_griseocephalus

Distribution and habitat

It has two isolated subspecies in Africa - one in Central Africa and the other in South Africa, occurring along the escarpment and southern coast. It generally prefers evergreen forest, occasionally venturing into fynbos and suburban gardens.

Distribution of Olive 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.  

Brood parasites

It has been recorded as host of the Lesser honeyguide and Scaly-throated honeyguide.

Food 

It usually forages in the upper canopies of trees, probing and pecking branches before licking off prey with its barbed tongue. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

Breeding

  • Both sexes excavate the nest (see image below), which is usually a oval-shaped hole in the trunk of a tree.
Dendropicos griseocephalus (Olive woodpecker)   

Olive woodpecker at its nest, Mpumalanga, South Africa. [photo Neil Gray ©]

 
  • Egg-laying season is from August-November, peaking from September-October.
  • It lays 2-3 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for roughly 15-16 days.
  • The chicks are cared for by both parents, leaving the nest at about 24-26 days old. The juveniles return to the nest to roost for about 3 months, after which they become fully independent.

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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