Monday, June 7, 2010

Belize Bird of the Week #5 – Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Melanerpes aurifrons

The golden-fronted woodpecker is a fairly common bird in Mexico and Central America that is also sometimes seen in Texas and even Oklahoma. To my eyes, they look very similar to the red-bellied woodpeckers that live in the eastern half of the US (I wrote about red-bellied woodpeckers here). 
Below is a female golden-fronted woodpecker in a cecropia tree.  What long toes she has!
The specifics of its coloring vary depending on geographic location. In Belize and the rest of the Yucatan Peninsula, the nasal tufts, the nape, and the belly are red, whereas in the rest of Mexico and Texas, the nape and nasal tufts are yellow and south of the Yucatan, the nape is orange. 
This one is in a sea grape tree.  You can see a bit of the red nasal tufts in this perspective.
Even though the coloring differs by location, it is considered one species with four forms. I must confess that I am puzzled by the name because I sure don’t see any golden anywhere on these birds unless the name refers to the nasal tufts of the form seen in Texas and Mexico. 
And here is a shot of a female in a papaya tree.  The red on the head of the females doesn't come all the way to the front as it does in the males.
These woodpeckers are big fruit eaters and eat fruit in preference to insects when fruit is available. I observed them eating fruit of the sea grape, papaya, and the Cecropia (trumpet) tree. They seemed to especially like sea grapes and spent hours in the sea grape trees eating the just ripening fruit.  The series of shots below shows the female (turns out that it is only the female that I got good shots of) peeling a strip of sea grape flesh off the still unripe grape.  The sea grape is mostly one large seed with only a thin layer of flesh; the woodpecker really worked hard for such a small prize!

To end this post I have images of a bright orange star fish in the shallow water with the eel grass and a view of Great Monkey Cay (pronounced “key”) just off shore.
Those golden-fronted woodpeckers sure have a good view!

15 comments:

  1. What a beauty she is. And great captures too Wilma. I do love their view.

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  2. Wilma, that Woodpecker looks like it`s been dabbed with dayglo paint. What a beauty.

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  3. Great looking woodpecker.That fiery red is looks as if it's glowing.

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  4. A beautiful looking woodpecker and certainly similar to the Great Spotted Woodpecker we have in England but yours is much more colourful.

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  5. A beautiful woodpecker and great captures

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  6. Wilma, Love the content and format of your blog. What beautiful photos. Glad I now have a format to comment to you. It's great to possibly find a kindred spirit. Maybe share by email. Gale

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  7. Keith, Madi, and David - thanks for the comments. I think the bright sunshine makes the red "pop".

    Ari - thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Gale - so glad you stopped by. I believe we are kindred spirits. :-) I have enjoyed reading your blog very much. I admire the spirit with which you and your husband undertook the venture into the unknown, so to speak.

    cheers to all,
    Wilma

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  8. Hi Wilma, loved the last photo, that's what I call a view for a woodpecker..... of course not as attractive and picturesque as here in rainy Britain

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  9. Stunning shots Wilma,love the deep Red colour.
    Woodpeckers are fantastic birds.
    Great photography.

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  10. Andrew and JRandSue -- appreciate the comments! Thanks for visiting. I'll try to get more suitable scenic shots with some picturesque rain next time. :-)

    cheers,
    Wilma

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  11. Beautiful Woodpecker with fruits series.

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  12. Love the shots of the Woodpecker Wilma.

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  13. What a splendid post Wilma... Full of beautiful pictures of woodpecker, a pity we do not have them over here :-)

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  14. Hi Tabib, Roy, And Chris -- thanks for visiting. Sometimes they are so intent on eating that they don't pay much attention to the person pointing that black thing in their direction! Makes it much easier to get good shots.

    cheers,
    Wilma

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