The time before I seriously started watching birds I was under the impression  that Woodpeckers are birds from the tropics. Was surprised to learned that we, in Malaysia do have our own fairly large collection too.

This bird "Woodpeckers" got their English name from the way this group of birds have the habit of pecking noisily on tree trunks. Studies later concluded that the habit was actually a means to signal possession of territory to their rivals. Other times also to ascertain the presence of larvae inside the bark or hollows within the tree trunk.

Woodpeckers also use their beaks to create large enough cavity inside the tree trunk for their nests. Such hollow space can be between1545 cm below the tiny entrance, i.e. the opening that we usually see .

Beside the uniqueness of making those loud noises, there are other peculiarities found in Woodpeckers. Ornithologist then listed Woodpeckers are "near passerine" birds of the order Piciformes. Under this grouping designated for birds having zygodactyl feet [has two toes] that are directed to the front and another two directed to the back. The design of the feet allows the bird to cling to a vertical tree trunk, quietly inching its way up. Usually creeping  round and round the trunk as it progresses up the tree. When it stops, the stiff pointed feathers at its tail is pressed spread out like a fan against the bark to provide a firm anchorage in support of its hammering action. The same legs perform very well for grasping or perching. Most species of Woodpeckers in Malaysia, indeed had 4 toes but there are those with only three toes.

The woodpecker has long tongue and ends in a barb. This tongue compliments its feeding habits that skewers the grub and draws it out of the trunk. So long that it's length could the equivalent of the body of woodpecker itself. The tongue could be controlled to dart forward if needed to arrest the prey. Now for that type of profile, this layout of the tongue could not follow the convention design as in most birds. To accommodate its length in the head, the tongue is curled up within its skull.

Woodpeckers are usually brightly colored, although the female has slightly less. Undoubtedly the special feature it has, the chisel shaped bills is characteristic . Then they have short powerful legs for anchorage. Woodpeckers are not known to be a song bird. Most use a single syllabus loud screeching call sounding like a scream, repeated 5 or 6 times  in spaced interval.

The birds are found worldwide with 215 species counted. In South-east Asia here are  42 species of which 26 "belatok" are found in Malaysia.

They really have wide variations in sizes. From the smallest Rufous Woodpecker, size of large insect to the largest Slaty Backed - the size of an Eagle.


Regular size & Large Woodpeckers



01 Bamboo Woodpecker



02 Banded Woodpecker

  03  Bay Woodpecker  
  04 Checker-throated Woodpecker  
  05 Common Flameback  
  06. Greater Flameback  
  07 Crimson-winged Woodpecker  
  08. Gray-headed Woodpecker  
  09 Great Slaty Woodpecker  
   10 Greater Yellownape  
  11 Laced Woodpecker  
  12 Lesser Yellownape  
  13 Maroon Woodpecker  
  14. Olive-backed Woodpecker  
  15. Orange-backed Woodpecker  
  16. Rufous Woodpecker  
  17 Streak-breasted Woodpecker  
  18. White-bellied Woodpecker  

  Mid-size Woodpeckers

  19 Buff-rumped Woodpecker  
  20 Buff-necked Woodpecker  
  21. Eurasian Wryneck


  22 Gray-and-buff Woodpecker  

Dwarf Woodpeckers


  23. Gray-capped Woodpecker  
  24. Sunda Woodpecker  
  25. Speckled Piculet  
  26. Rufous Piculet  

I repeat, I love Woodpeckers! There is a long list of Woodpeckers but so far I am still some way from meeting my target. In writing and using terms like chestnut and rufous to describe the colors may take some time for new comers to get accustomed with. Then these colored hues applied on the birds stretching from the head to the rump etc. In real life, the maturity of the birds, male and female have the shades varied further. This in return bring in more data to be digested and noted. Then the birds themselves when seen from varying angle and under different shades of lightings, the diagnostic varies, experienced birds could grasp a few main feature to lock on the ID. For unsure new comers, unsure all the way, the signs picked up creating more doubts than answers. The series of pictures on this page have illustrations on these variances. I feel that seeing more pictures can bring the doubts to a higher level but also forced us to slowly realize that the many facts given to us are not straight forward. So use the many birds pictures here to do self analysis in the comfort of home. Understand the ambiguity of interpretations made by others, how it is suppose to mean. Lock into the diagnostic signs as given by people who are more experienced in this field.

Back to Birds itself. Woodpeckers are birds that do give hint or clues of their whereabouts. Through their slamming against the tree branches and their calls. But they also are spending tremendously long time at one particular spot. So one frustration, more often than not, that particular spot where the bird is, hidden away from my view. The sounds transmitted would not help very much until and unless the bird takes a break. Alter its perch to one within our sight. At last the bird would invariably  would. Once out in the open, I am sure the Woodpecker were actually near - like within a 100 feet distance away. But all the while cleverly hidden from view. But sadly, it would also be the time that  it had finished its chore and made that brief appearance. Flying off for some reasons.

There are just 3 more Woodpeckers that I need to get pictures of. They are the White-Bellied, Bay and the Bamboo Woodpeckers. Other than the White-bellied Woodpecker, I had taken pictures of the other two. Low quality "insurance" shots that are nothing to talk about. The day will come, let's wait.

This page somehow is meeting with technical problem, simply too long. Does not not open well. I have transferred some materials over to 2 other pages to lessen the load, still the problem persisted.



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