Drama in my backyard – a woodpecker’s bark removal in search for food atop a mango tree stump and an inquisitive audience!:
This time, mom hollered from the backyard and said “Some new bird has landed on the mango tree. It looks beautiful. Come take a look”.
To my surprise, it was a white-naped woodpecker – Chrysocolaptes festivus, which I had seen once earlier. Moments after spotting me, it gave a loud call and flew close to the bottom of another small mango tree stump, climbed up and after ensuring that it was safe from whatsoever threats, started pecking on an already cut/ marked portion in the bark. I brought my camera and this time I asked my mom to go ahead and I followed cautiously. The trick worked as the bird just watched for a few seconds and continued its work and I started clicking. (I have noticed many common birds that have strayed into the backyard like the hoopoe, tailor bird, sparrows, koel and sunbirds coming very close, just a feet or two next to my mom. But I seem like a stranger to them and a slight action on my part is enough to have them scurrying away with a cry of alarm.)
Soon, the noise aroused the curiosity of a furred mammal which came close to the woodpecker, but one sharp peck from its beak sent the intruder scampering away, only for it to return and peep at the woodpecker from a respectable distance.
Once, a woodpecker continued its rap-a-tap-tap noise on the bark of the mango tree with its chisel-like bill, making a mark from top to bottom and then again to the top right, as if drawing out a heart.
It took less than three minutes for the wood pecker to remove a small portion of the bark of the mango tree, eat some insects/worms and fly away. I could see nothing what it ate. But there were small holes under the bark. After the exit of the wood pecker, the squirrel came to check and spent all its time sniffing and licking at the place, where moments earlier the woodpecker had been busy at work.
It took me years to learn that the continuous firing sounds in the wilderness which resembled a gun being fired, was thanks to these woodpeckers boring into hollow wood for insects. The alarm calls too are a quick burst of sounds. During trips to my village, I normally see them on many of the Ficus species (Banyan –Ficus bengalensis , Ficus mysorensis, F.racemosa, coconut, areca and acacia trees making their way from the bottom of the tree to the topmost branches invisible for some time and then flying away
Photo date : 20 Nov 2009, Time 1:00PM to 1:09PM
Krishnaraja nagar, Mysore District, Karnataka
Note: This Mango tree stump no longer exists
Thats a female of white-naped woodpecker.