Thursday, February 4, 2010

One of the Largest of All Woodpeckers!

One of the most widely seen videos of Magellanic Woodpeckers is also one of the best!  It's this clip from The Eloquent Communicators episode from The Life of Birds series by David Attenborough.  Available for a long time on YouTube in poorer quality, this enhanced (in sight and sound) version comes from the BBC's Wildlife Finder site.  The BBC recently made it available at their site to viewers outside of the United Kingdom. *UPDATE - unfortunately, the high quality clip is no longer available, as far as I can tell. The video above comes from YouTube.*

The video is fascinating for the several double raps it shows the birds doing in response to Attenborough hitting a tree trunk with two stones.  It's also got fantastic flight footage that includes this bird's audible wingbeats and its signature, swooping style of landing on a tree trunk.  I prefer the small view version here rather than the full screen view.

Magellanic Woodpecker

Magellanic Woodpecker, originally uploaded by billy3001.
A male Magellanic Woodpecker in old growth forest at Lago del Desierto, Argentina. Taken during my trip to Patagonia in January, 2008.

Life History of Magellanic Woodpecker, at Neotropical Birds

Originally posted 3/26/11 - backdated to organize posts by topic.

Photo © M. Lammertink, posted with permission

I am excited to announce that the species account for the Magellanic Woodpecker has been completed at Neotropical Birds!  The species account instantly provides people with an authoritative, comprehensive and free life history of this impressive member of the Campephilus genus.  Co-authored by Valeria Ojeda and Laura Chazarreta (who appear left to right in the photo below) here is an excerpt from the overview:

Although there are woodpeckers throughout most of the Neotropics, perhaps none is as awe-inspiring as the Magellanic Woodpecker, which is an endemic species of the austral temperate forest. The large size, simple and elegant color pattern, as well as the curly and expressive crest of the female strongly suggest the extinct or nearly extinct Imperial (Campephilus imperialis) and Ivory-billed (C. principalis) woodpeckers. 

Visit Neotropical Birds to explore this in-depth entry and you will find information on identification, distribution, life history, and conservation of this species, a list of references, an array of photos and links to several vocalization and sound files:

Photo © M. Lammertink, posted with permission

Neotropical Birds is a collaborative project by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology that aims to become the world's most comprehensive resource for neotropical birds. Read more here:

Visit PicidPics to see more photos of the researchers/co-authors at work in the field:

Ph.D. & Post-Doc Fellowship Opportunities – Magellanic Woodpecker

Originally posted 5/17/13 - backdated to organize posts by topic.
Magellanic Woodpeckers photo © Jamie Jimenez, posted here with permission.
The University of Texas currently (as of May 16, 2013) is advertising for two interesting positions - potential dream jobs for the right individuals! Check the links below for full details.

See too this link to interesting details on the study that is related to these positions:

Magellanic Woodpecker on Navarino Island

Originally posted 3/9/13 - backdated to organize posts by topic. 

Male Magellanic Woodpecker feeding on a fallen Nothofagus pumilio log in Navarino Island, near the southernmost end of the world, in January 2013.

Field researcher Jaime E. Jiménez captured this HD video and wrote these comments:

Years ago I was thrilled by the very nature of the Magellanic Woodpeckers (Campephilus magellanicus) in the deep Nothofagus forests of southern Chile! This was not only by its self-confident appearance, but also by their gracious behavior, complex calls and communication, and by their ways of finding food...

Magellanic Woodpecker Studies in Central & Southern Chile

Originally posted 6/20/12 - backdated to organize posts by topic.

It's my pleasure to share a detailed summary, in English and en Español, of a research project on Magellanic Woodpeckers within their northernmost range in the Alto Huemul Nature Sanctuary, which I received along with several photos from researcher Gloria Vallejos Barra. She is working with Lorenzo Campos Aguirre

Concurrent with the study in Central Chile, University of Texas ecologist Jaime Jiminez is conducting a study on the same woodpecker and other bird species in the deciduous forest groves of Navarino Island, Chile, located in the southernmost, sub-Antarctic region of South America. A detailed summary of his project can be found here: 

 Let's all wish the researchers much success on these important research projects!


A project about the Magellanic Woodpecker, named Campephilus magellanicus: study of ecological and biological aspects, and environmental education, crucial for its conservation is being executed in Chile, in the Alto Huemul Nature Sanctuary. 
The Sanctuary, belonging to private investors, is located in the Bellavista mountain range (approximately 34°77’S y 70°38’W), of the Andean foothills, near San Fernando municipality, Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins administrative region, in the mediterranean zone of central Chile. The Sanctuary, considered a Priority Site for Conservation of Biodiversity in the region, has nearly 3.000 hectares of Roblé beech trees (Nothofagus obliqua)

The project is funded by the Environmental Ministry of Chile, by means of the Fund for Environmental Investigation and Interpretation, and is to be carried out in 2012-2013. The project is being executed by Fundación Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias y Pecuarias (FUNFAVET) of Universidad de Chile, through its investigators Gloria Vallejos Barra and Lorenzo Campos Aguirre. Associated institutions, committed to the woodpecker's conservation, are: Sociedad Inmobiliaria Ecológica Alto Huemul (owner of the Sanctuary), National Forestry Corporation (CONAF) of the Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins and Araucanía regions, and the Ecology and Wildlife Laboratoy (LEVS) of Universidad de Chile.

The main objective of the investigation is to generate information on C. magellanicus in order to develop a regional conservation plan that contributes to avoiding the extinction of this species in central Chile. Specifically, the project aims to:

1. Establish the species' density at regional scale, 2. Identify reproduction and potential nesting needs of the woodpecker, according to limiting factor (cavity trees), 3. Identify and characterize cavity trees, establish their density and existence of roost and resting places, 4. Establish the degree of isolation of the woodpecker population of Alto Huemul, according to patches of Nothofagus species, 5. Raise environmental awareness in surrounding communities.
The project is being developed due to the species' importance and its state of being highly threatened in certain areas. C. magellanicus is a habitat specialist, restricted to mature native forest, mainly of the Nothofagus genus, in Chile and Argentina. In Chile, currently the species distributes between the Bellavista mountain range (northernmost limit) and the Beagle Channel (55°S) (Araya et al., 1998). The species is classified as Endangered in three regions of the country: O’Higgins, Maule and Bío-Bío. In the O’Higgins region, the species is only found in the Bellavista mountain range (where the project is being executed) and any threat could lead to its regional extinction. At the same time and in consensus of various authors, the information about the species' ecology and biology are scarce, and the majority of the information available is from the southern and austral zone of Chile and Argentinean Patagonia, making it difficult to implement conservation measures and management in the species' northernmost distribution range. Therefore, the generation of data is crucial to support the species' national conservation plan, and to contribute to decisions concerning management at the local and national level, with the participation and inclusion of local participants.
Araya, B., Millie y Bernal, M. 1998. Guia de Campo de las Aves de Chile. Sixth edition, Editorial Universitaria, Santiago.


Se está ejecutando un proyecto sobre Campephilus magellanicus en Chile, denominado Campephilus magellanicus: estudio de aspectos ecológicos, biológicos y educación ambiental cruciales para su conservación, en la localidad de Sierras de Bellavista (aproximadamente 34°77’S y 70°38’W), específicamente en el santuario de la Naturaleza Alto Huemul, de propiedad privada, ubicado en la zona mediterránea de Chile central, Región del Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins, comuna de San Fernando, a nivel de precordillera andina. El Santuario, considerado Sitio Prioritario para la Conservación de la Biodiversidad en la región, cuenta aproximadamente con 3.000 hectáreas de roblerías; Nothofagus obliqua.

El proyecto es financiado por el fondo de investigación e interpretación ambiental del Ministerio del Medioambiente de Chile, por el período 2012-2013. Y está a cargo de la Fundación Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias y Pecuarias de la Universidad de Chile (FUNFAVET), a través de sus investigadores Gloria Vallejos Barra y Lorenzo Campos Aguirre. Contando con organismos asociados que apoyan al proyecto, debido a su interés en conservar esta especie de carpintero, debido a su importancia y a su nivel de amenaza en el país. Entre estos se encuentran; La sociedad Inmobiliaria Ecológica Alto Huemul S. A., propietaria del área, La Corporación Nacional Forestal (CONAF) región del Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins y de la Araucanía y El laboratorio de Ecología y Vida Silvestre (LEVS) de la Universidad de Chile.

La Investigación tiene por objetivo Generar información sobre C. magellanicus para elaborar un plan de conservación regional, que ayude a evitar su extinción de Chile central y específicamente; 1. Determinar densidad de la especie a nivel regional, 2. Identificar reproducción y nidificación potencial del carpintero según factor limitante (árboles cavidad), 3. Identificar y caracterizar árboles cavidad, determinar su densidad y determinar dormideros/descansaderos, 4. Determinar aislamiento de la población según fragmentos de Nothofagus sp. 5. Desarrollar educación ambiental en comunidades aledañas.

Se plantea este proyecto debido a la importancia de la especie y su grado de amenaza a nivel nacional. C. magellanicus es un especialista de hábitat, restringido a bosque nativo maduro principalmente del género Nothofagus tanto de Chile como de Argentina. En Chile, se distribuye actualmente desde Sierra Bellavista hasta el sur del canal Beagle (XII Región) (Araya et al., 1998). Catalogada En Peligro de Extinción en tres regiones del país; Regiones de O’Higgins, Maule y Bío Bío. En la Región de O’Higgins, la especie se encuentra descrita sólo en la localidad de Sierras de Bellavista (donde se ejecuta el proyecto) y cualquier amenaza podría llevarla a la extinción regional. Conjuntamente y concordando con diversos autores, existen escasos antecedentes de la ecología y biología de C. magellanicus y la mayoría de ellos son de la zona sur y austral de Chile y de la Patagonia argentina, dificultando medidas de conservación y manejo en su límite septentrional de distribución. Por lo tanto se considera crucial, generar datos para apoyar el plan nacional de conservación de la especie y ayudar en decisiones sobre gestión y manejo a nivel local y nacional, con la participación de los actores locales. 

Araya, B., Millie y Bernal, M. 1998. Guia de Campo de las Aves de Chile. Sixth edition, Editorial Universitaria, Santiago.

Mégapic de Magellan

Originally posted 6/8/10 - backdated to organize posts by topic.

Here is Plate II by C. Delahaye from Alfred Malherbe's Monographie de Picidées, depicting Mégapic de Magellan - the Magellanic Woodpecker of Chile and Argentina that I was lucky enough to observe during my travels in Patagonia.

Clicking on the image above will take you to my online album of plates from Monographie de Picidées where, if you like, you can download a high resolution file of this public domain image.  The album is worth a visit to examine the illustration in fine detail (see e.g., the male's yellow eye).
The feathers at the base of the female (behind the tree trunk) bird's bill should appear the same color red as the male's head, but that color has changed to an odd shade of violet during the almost 150 years since it was created.  This illustration also seems simplistic compared to the others, and the birds look the most cartoonish to me.  Then again, the image grows on me when I recall that this third largest woodpecker of the Americas can often appear cartoonish in life as well as in illustration!
The image above is within the public domain and it appears here courtesy of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University in the City of New York.

For a glimpse at the past, see this interesting, related bit of information from Fieldiana: zoology, Volume 13, Part 2 by Field Museum of Natural History, Field Columbian Museum, Chicago Natural History Museum from March 1918, a catalogue of birds of the Americas and adjacent islands, available here at Google books.

Forest Birds of the World - Magellanic Woodpecker

Originally posted 12/28/11 - backdated to organize posts by topic.
Congratulations to researcher Martjan Lammertink who won first prize in November 2011 for the category Forest Birds of the World with this photo of a juvenile male Magellanic Woodpecker that he took in Nahuel Huapi National Park, Argentina. The photo contest was organized by SEO/BirdLife, the branch of BirdLife International in Spain, to commemorate the International Year of Forests 2011.

The fact that the winning photos were selected from a total of 1,050 images submitted by 305 professionals from 13 countries is a testament to how attractive and charismatic Magellanic Woodpeckers are as forest ambassadors.

Find more details and the two other first prize winning photos here:

Magellanic Woodpecker at Work in Patagonia

Originally posted 5/24/11 - backdated to organize posts by topic.

Here's a brief, splendid video of a Magellanic Woodpecker working on a dead tree in Patagonia.  You can hear one of this bird's calls if you turn up the sound while you watch this video by robkroenert on YouTube.  Change 360p to 1080p on the video to watch it in high definition.  The high def version may take a while to load.

Magellanic Woodpecker, Glacier National Park, Argentina

Originally posted 5/20/10 - backdated to organize posts by topic.

This photo of a female Magellanic Woodpecker at Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina shows off her recurved crest very well. The photo is © john_raiders and posted here with his permission.

If you haven't heard the laughing call of the Magellanic Woodpecker yet, it is most definitely worth a listen, right here:

Division of Labour in Parental Care in the Magellanic Woodpecker

Originally posted 8/24/10 - backdated to organize posts by topic.
Here's a wonderful photo of a male Magellanic Woodpecker near El Chalten, Argentina accompanied by information on a new research article in the Journal of Ornithology. The article is based upon one of the most detailed studies ever of parental care of woodpeckers in the southern hemisphere.  Here are a few highlights:

  • The study involved investigating parental care of Magellanic Woodpeckers at 11 nests from dawn to dusk throughout the nesting season
  • Only a single young was reared at any nest, even at nests where two hatchlings were produced.
  • Feeding rates were similar between parents, but males delivered larger prey to nestlings.

Find more information in an abstract of the article and a full text preview at this link:

Congratulations to María Laura Chazarreta, Valeria Susana Ojeda and Ana Trejo, the authors of the article.

And many thanks to wizard4all for granting permission to post his super photo here!

Magellanic Woodpeckers, Father and Son

                                                                                                     Originally posted 7/11/10 - backdated to organize posts by topic.
Watch this video by goranlondon of a young male Magellanic Woodpecker and his father.  The adult bird works hard to extract a tasty morsel from the tree trunk for his noisy (turn up your volume!), impatient son. Ivory-billed Woodpecker enthusiasts will be interested to hear kent-like, soft "tooting" sounds emanating from the father bird, I presume, starting at 19-20 seconds into the video. It seems as if the father is saying:

"Hang on son. Hang on. I'm working on it!"

Magellanic Woodpecker: Management Strategies for Keystone Bird Species

Originally posted 5/24/10 - backdated to organize posts by topic.

Magellanic Woodpecker, originally uploaded by billy3001.
This is a photo I took of a male Magellanic Woodpecker hard at work in old growth forest at Lago del Desierto, Argentina.

Of course, the Magellanic Woodpecker holds far more significance than the many interesting photos you may see of it.  Dr. Valeria Ojeda completed her dissertation, Nesting habitat selection and reproductive biology of Magellanic woodpeckers Campephilus magellanicus (Aves, Picidae) in northwestern Patagonia, Argentina, in 2006. 

There is a related, very interesting article available online by Dr. Ojeda entitled Management strategies for keystone bird species: The Magellanic woodpecker in Nahuel Huapi National Park, Argentina.  Here is an excerpt from the article: 

The tolerance and charismatic nature of this species make it an ideal tool for the development of profitable alternative forest activities such as ecotourism, recreation, and biodiversity prospecting, both within and outside of protected areas. This reflects the claim of many international visitors that the Magellanic woodpecker is a flagship and probably a keystone species of the forests of southern Argentina and Chile. 

It is accompanied by an excellent photo of a female Magellanic Woodpecker in flight.  And, if you'd like to see Dr. Ojeda and other woodpecker researchers in action, visit PicidPics for a fine assortment of photos.  

Nahuel Huapi National Park is certainly worth an additional mention.  Established in 1934, it is the oldest Argentine national park, in Patagonia in the foothills of the Andes mountains.  For more information about Nahuel Huapi National Park:


Magellanic Woodpecker - BAM-Bam!

In this segment from his 1998 series, The Life of Birds, David Attenborough summons a male Magellanic Woodpecker by mimicking it's signature double knock on a tree in Patagonia.  In addition to this clip, the BBC maintains an entire page of information on the Magellanic Woodpecker here at this link.  Notes that accompany the Intro clip on that page describe different foraging behavior of females and males when raising nestlings to strategically maximize food resources.  Males have been known to catch lizards and even the chicks of other birds!

Campephilus double knocks vary in volume and are not necessarily always loud.  But, consider the loud double knock of the Magellanic Woodpecker that occurs at 1:33 min into this clip.  The power behind that double knock is illustrative, I think, of how very loud the double knocks of its northern relative, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, could be, as often described in historical literature, given its substantially larger dimensions.  BAM-Bam!

Ivory-billed Woodpecker
- length 48-53cm/19-21in (approximate)
- 450 - 570 grams (approximate)

Magellanic Woodpecker
- length 36-38cm/14-15in
- male 312-363 grams; female 276 - 312 grams

Source for measurements
- Woodpeckers: A Guide to the Woodpeckers of the World by H. Winkler, D. A. Christie & D. Nurney

Carpintero Gigante + Happy Chinese New Year!

Originally posted 1/10/2011 - backdated to organize posts by topic.
Carpintero, originally uploaded by Roberto Simonitti.

A male Magellanic Woodpecker brings an insect to a nestling in this excellent photo by Roberto Simonitti from Ushuaia, Argentina which is commonly regarded as the southernmost city in the world. The photo is posted here with his kind permission.

And now for something entirely different:

Happy Yodel by Ho Lan - Mandala Studio Music Video

This video is off-topic.  However, it made me feel so very good this morning that I want to share it with you.  Best wishes to all by way of this Happy Chinese New Year video celebrating the Year of the Rabbit!   Musical production is by a talented friend of mine, Hsi-Ling Chang.

I love to sign a song. Yodel-lay...!
Sing and sing all day long!
Happy to be right here!
Singing throughout the year!

Trouble don't come my way, I've no place for you!!

Why don't you sing along? Yodel-lay...!

Press play, then change the setting at the lower right of the video box from 360p to 720p to watch and hear it at high definition.


Originally posted 9/28/2010 - backdated to organize posts by topic.

Carpintero, originally uploaded by Jorge OK.
This is a male Carpintero Negro, also known as the Magellanic Woodpecker.

Thanks to Jorge Oyarce Kruger for sharing such a striking photo here!

He writes,  I also organize photo-safaris to watch birds in my my house and my terrains and find this awesome bird in my backyard, where there is a nesting place.  And from his site: is an ongoing project that seeks to promote the protection of our natural resources and in particular the biodiversity of our country, particularly in the region of Los Lagos and Aysen.

Check out Jorge OK's site here: 

Multi-ethnic Bird Guide of the Subantarctic Forests of South America

 Originally posted 9/28/2010 - backdated to organize posts by topic.

UPDATE:  I recently received a copy of this marvelous book, and it's available now.  The included Yahgan story on the origin of the Magellanic Woodpecker tells an amazing tale of a brother who fell in love with his own sister "in ancestral times when birds were still humans."  Back in March 2010, I posted the information below about this book with its uniquely diverse content and beautiful photography.

Here's the description from the publisher, and you can find a few more details there at:   

University of North Texas Press

The subantarctic forests of South America are the world’s southernmost forested ecosystems. The birds have sung in these austral forests for millions of years; the Yahgan and Mapuche peoples have handed down their bird stories from generation to generation for hundreds of years.

 In Multi-ethnic Bird Guide of the Subantarctic Forests of South America, Ricardo Rozzi and his collaborators present a unique combination of bird guide and cultural ethnography. The book includes entries on fifty bird species of southern Chile and Argentina, among them the Magellanic Woodpecker, Rufous-Legged Owl, Ringed Kingfisher, Buff-Necked Ibis, Giant Hummingbird, and Andean Condor. Each bird is named in Yahgan, Mapudungun, Spanish, English, and scientific nomenclature, followed by a description, full color photographs, the bird’s distribution map, habitat and lifestyle, and its history in the region.

 Each entry is augmented further with indigenous accounts of the bird in history and folklore. Two audio CDs (included) orient the reader with the birdcalls and their names in four languages, followed by numerous narratives of Yahgan and Mapuche stories about the birds translated directly from interviews with elders of both communities.


Here is a photo I took at el Museo Maritimo de Ushuaia. For a fascinating piece about the extraordinary Yahgan people:

Expert Driven Habitat Suitability Modelling for the Magellanic Woodpecker in Karukinka Natural Park, Tierra del Fuego, Chile

Originally posted March 24, 2010 - backdated to organize posts by topic.

Recently, Adrian Hughes completed a masters thesis with the aforementioned title on the Magellanic Woopecker. He set up a related website at Among the objectives of his study is this one: 

To produce a habitat suitability map of Karukinka Park and surrounding area for
  the Magellanic woodpecker using a GIS and Multi Criteria Evaluation to help
facilitate species location within the park.

Magellanic WoodPeckers, originally uploaded by Sergio R. Nuñez C.
Creative Commons licensed photo. 

Some of the most interesting (to me) facts and aspects regarding Magellanic Woodpeckers conveyed in the thesis are:
  • The thesis argues in support of designating the Magellanic Woodpecker as a flagship species in support of protecting wildlife throughout Patagonia, as well as a keystone species and bio-indicator.  Those are three big designations to attach to one of the largest woodpeckers in the world.
  • Magellanic Woodpeckers are sapsuckers!  This thesis mentions that Magellanic Woodpeckers are more prevalent in mixed forests because those forests contain a type of southern beech tree that provides them with "sap which is an energetic foodsource for the woodpecker that supplements the normal food source of wood boring lavae (Cerambycid)."
  • Magellanic Woodpeckers nest in weakened trees >30 cm dbh, but not typically in fully dead trees because such trees are too susceptible to destruction from strong winds in Patagonia.
  • Amazingly, Magellanic Woodpeckers require trees that are very old for nesting for they "found no trees with nest sign younger than 97 years with the mean age of all cavity trees being 187 years old."
  • Magellanic Woodpeckers apparently avoid building nests near ravines where fast moving water in springtime is so loud as to interfere with their spring mating rituals.
  • Magellanic Woodpeckers seem to benefit, in the short-term, from the invasive, introduced North American beaver, but perhaps not in the long-term after trees are fully dead as a result of beaver activity.

Eco-philanthropists Conserving Land in Patagonia

Originally posted  2/23/10 - backdated to organize posts by topic.


 "I do not want to live in a world where there are no orangutans, or
Magellanic woodpeckers."
                                                 -Kristine McDivitt Tompkins,
                                                  former CEO of clothing company Patagonia

Neither do I!

Magellanic Woodpecker

magellanic woodpecker, originally uploaded by x@ray.

Female Magellanic Woodpecker.  Creative Commons licensed photo. 

Magellanic Woodpecker

Magellanic Woodpecker, originally uploaded by crookrw.

Male Magellanic Woodpecker.  Creative Commons licensed photo. 

Magellanic Woodpecker

Female Magellanic Woodpecker, originally uploaded by crookrw.

Female Magellanic Woodpecker photo in the Parque Nacional Puyehue. Creative Commons licensed photo.

Magellanic Woodpecker in Patagonia

Originally posted 3/22/2010 - backdated to organized posts by topic.

This is one of four high-definition videos on YouTube of a male Magellanic Woodpecker foraging in Parque Nacional Los Glaciares near El Calafate in Patagonia, Argentina.  The Magellanic Woodpecker has a wide range.  It inhabits the Andes in southern Chile and forested areas of southwest Argentina.

Patagonia is a paradise to hikers, photographers and to anyone who cherishes wildlife and wilderness.  The bird in this video lives in close proximity to the magnificent Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina.  Perhaps you've been there to see and hear humongous chunks of ice falling off the edge of the glacier and plunging into Lago Argentino!

Photo © Bill Benish

If you visit Patagonia, you can arrange to have the amazing experience of taking a walking tour on the Perito Moreno Glacier.  I cannot recommend this excursion strongly enough.  It is not always easy to arrange, nor is it inexpensive.   Never mind.  Just find a way to do it!   Start here with a Google search and browse the results:      big ice perito moreno

Photo © Bill Benish

And so this, among other fantastic places, is where the Magellanic Woodpecker lives in the adjoining southern beech tree forests.  It's no wonder that I long to be back there.

Campephilus Woodpeckers in Flight - Videos

Originally posted 4/09/2010 - backdated to organized posts by topic.

Video and photo footage of Campephilus woodpeckers in flight is relatively rare, so I'm always interested whenever I come across something new.  This clip by Felipe Cabello, posted here with permission, shows a male Magellanic Woodpecker exploring a bit then flying off near the end of the video.  It was taken in the Nahuelbuta area in Chile.  Look closely, and you will see a lizard scurrying across the lower right side of the tree trunk!  Upon watching the video, I hope you'll agree with the sentiment of it's title, translated here as "Woodpecker, be delighted."

Many readers will recall the video obtained by David Luneau that he obtained at Cache River National Wildlife Refuge, Arkansas, on April 25, 2004.  Is the bird in the video an Ivory-billed Woodpecker, a Pileated Woodpecker, or something else?  A quick search on Google will retrieve links to extensive discussion on this video.  Some offer up pileateds in flight examples for comparison.  But none that I am aware of take a good look at videos and photos of the North American ivorybill's Campephilus relatives in flight for comparison, material that may be informative (if not definitive) toward the true identity of the bird in the Luneau video.

As you will see here,  most footage of these birds in flight is exceedingly brief! 

1.  Watch the Luneau video at 1/2 speed and 4x magnification.

2.  One of the best flight videos is BBC's clip of Magellanic Woodpeckers:  Find the BBC's clip here.

4.  A male Ivory-billed Woodpecker leaves its nest hole at the 15:20 mark in this video:  Rediscovery of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker

5.  Two Cream-backed Woodpeckers in flight, briefly, at the start of this video:  Cream-backed Woodpeckers in flight

6.  A female Cream-backed Woodpecker alighting on tree at end of video:  Cream-backed Woodpecker alights on tree

7.  Not quite flight, but lots of flapping by a Crimson-crested Woodpecker here:  Crimson-crested Woodpecker and serpent

8.  Red-necked Woodpecker launches off tree snag here:  Red-necked Woodpecker launch

9.  A male Pale-billed Woodpecker takes off very quickly, at the end of this video:  Fly away 

I plan to do a separate post on flight photos.

Magellanic Woodpecker - Hammering Away!

Male Magellanic Woodpecker in Tierra del Fuego National Park.

Magellanic Woodpecker

Magellanic Woodpecker, originally uploaded by billy3001.
In January 2008, my partner Daniel and I traveled to Patagonia. Of course, we were hoping to observe the Magellanic Woodpecker. It took us quite a while to find them. We asked at the hostel in El Chaltén, "Where can we find these birds?" A knowledgeable person told us to drive to Lago del Desierto where there is a magnificent old growth forest. We went. And, finally, here was our first look at one, a female bird. I had no idea whether we'd be able to get closer to them or not. We did get closer, and it was a wonderful thing!

Photo taken in Lago/Laguna del Desierto, Argentina.

Magellanic Woodpecker

Magellanic Woodpecker, originally uploaded by billy3001.
It's often said that you usually hear a woodpecker before you see it. The Magellanic Woodpecker is the largest woodpecker in South America. I took this photo at Lago del Desierto, on the Chilean border in Argentina.

Magellanic Woodpecker - The Laughing Call

Magellanic Woodpecker, originally uploaded by billy3001.
Soon after we spotted the group of 3 birds, they spotted us. Then one of the two females flew right over to us, landing high up in the closest tree. She looked down at us and gave out a loud call that sounded as if she was laughing hysterically.  I've watched Pileated Woodpeckers (Dryocopus pileatus) often in the US, and I've yet to see any of them exhibit such bold curiosity as this bird did.

To hear what this female Magellanic Woodpecker sounded like, check out this link at xeno-canto and select the first sound file on that page!  I took this photo in Lago del Desierto, Argentina.

Magellanic Woodpecker Pair

Magellanic Woodpeckers, originally uploaded by billy3001.
Magellanic Woodpeckers often travel in pairs or small family groups, as do several of its relatives. That's a fortunate thing for the lucky photographer!

Cream-backed Woodpecker:  Apparently solitary outside of breeding season
Crimson-bellied WoodpeckerUsually encountered in pairs or familiesCrimson-crested Woodpecker:  Observed in pairs or small groups
Cuban Ivory-billed Woodpecker:  No notes on it
Guayaquil Woodpecker:  Often met with in pairs
Imperial WoodpeckerLives in pairs and in family groups of 3 - 5 (10?) birds
Ivory-billed Woodpecker: No notes, though other sources mention travel in pairs and groups
Magellanic WoodpeckerMet with singly, in pairs or in groups of 3 - 4
Pale-billed Woodpecker:  Found singly or in pairs
Powerful WoodpeckerOften encountered in pairs
Red-necked WoodpeckerFound in pairs or small family parties
Robust WoodpeckerNo notes

Source:   Woodpeckers: A Guide to the Woodpeckers of the World by H. Winkler, D. A. Christie & D. Nurney

Now, close your eyes and imagine seeing 10 live Imperial Woodpeckers at one time!


When we had secured all the birds near camp
another party of five or six
[imperials] was found in the hills a mile or so
away, and the Indians told us of other places where they were common.
- E.W. Nelson in The Auk, Vol. XV, No. 3, July 1898

Magellanic Woodpecker - Foraging

Magellanic Woodpecker, originally uploaded by billy3001.
I love this male Magellanic Woodpecker photo.  Lago del Desierto, Argentina. 

Magellanic Woodpecker - Splendor in the Forest

Magellanic Woodpecker, originally uploaded by billy3001.
Female Magellanic Woodpecker splendor, at Lago del Desierto, Argentina.

Pajaro Carpintero

Originally posted 4/26/10 - backdated to organize posts by topic.

Pajaro Carpintero, originally uploaded by jomme.

Black, white and red. The elegant color patterns of a male Magellanic Woodpecker make for a striking portrait against a stark, dead tree trunk! This excellent photo by jomme is posted here under Creative Commons license.

Refúgio Neumeyer - Pica Pau

Originally posted 7/22/11 - backdated to organize posts by topic.
Refúgio Neumeyer - Pica Pau by demiante
Refúgio Neumeyer - Pica Pau, a photo by demiante on Flickr.
This super cool image seems to be the perfect photo to post when high temperatures are smashing records across much of the USA today! The male Magellanic Woodpecker in this snowy tree was photographed by demiante at Refúgio Neumeyer in Valle de Challhuaco, near Bariloche, Chile.  Photo posted here under Creative Commons license.

Carpintero Macho

Originally posted 9/18/11 - backdated to organize posts by topic.

carpintero macho by lherrainz
carpintero macho, a photo by lherrainz on Flickr.
Enjoy this stunning portrait of a male Magellanic Woodpecker captured in Patagonia, Argentina by Leandro Herrainz. The photo is posted here with his permission.

Carpintero Gigante Hembra

Originally posted 9/20/11 - backdated to organize posts by topic.

This photo of a female Magellanic Woodpecker by Leandro Herrainz shows off it's impressive, curly crest very well - a feature shared by two of this species' northern relatives, the Imperial and Ivory-billed Woodpeckers. It was captured along the Senda Costera in Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego in Argentina.

This new article may be of interest to you:

Photo is posted here with permission from L. Herrainz.

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