In my Costa Rican garden: Black-cheeked Woodpecker

Black-cheeked Woodpecker (Melanerpes pucherani): Carpintero carinegro; Schläfenfleckspecht; Pic de Pucheran

Male Black-cheeked Woodpecker in my garden in San Antonio; photo by Larry Waddell

Several woodpecker species are fairly frequent visitors to my garden on the Turrialba Volcano slope, though I cannot guarantee daily visits. However, if bananas are ripening, chances are much improved for seeing the Black-cheeked Woodpecker, a common and colourful species found mostly on the Caribbean side of the country.

Note the red belly on this male Black-cheeked Woodpecker; photo by Karel Straatman

Next-door-neighbour Carlos regularly receives large deliveries by truck of excess unripe bananas from the lowland banana fields. These are deposited in big pile in his driveway, adjacent to and visible from our house, and are then fed to his cattle. This attracts many bird species including in spring whole families of Black-cheeked Woodpeckers. I have not recorded our other woodpecker species feeding in this manner but John Beer at Santa Rosa reports Hoffmann’s Woodpecker (Melanerpes hoffmannii) taking bananas at his feeders.

The next photo is a splendid close-up of a male Black-cheeked at Angostura, one of the best lowland (600 m elevation) birding sites in our area:

Male Black-cheeked Woodpecker displays his colourful head plumage; photo by John Beer

We finish this post with a pic of a female at a nesting hole. The male Black-cheeked has an entirely red crown whereas in the female the red is restricted to the hindcrown:

The Black-cheeked Woodpecker is a barred-backed species; female at Paso Marcos near indigenous Cabécar territory; photo by John Beer

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