Of Honeyguides & Woodpeckers: the struggle for survival

Home-life for a Cardinal Woodpecker is far from easy starting with a 2 to 3 week tree-hole excavation by both sexes before the first egg can be laid.

Cardinal Woodpeckers nest

Cardinal Woodpeckers nest

Tapping and chipping sounds during the process are never likely to go unnoticed within the hole-nesting bird community. Soon enough the regular crowd of hangers-on are in attendance observing the unfolding developments.

And so it was at Grootvadersbosch Forest Reserve where we found a pair of Cardinal Woodpeckers under constant surveillance by an extremely persistent pair of Lesser Honeyguides. Of necessity this called for carefully synchronized changeovers and some fiercely aggressive behaviour by the woodpeckers during the incubation period to prevent the female Honeyguide exploiting the changeover opportunity.

Add to this regular potential nest inspections by a pair of Southern Grey-headed Sparrows and you can appreciate the challenges involved in the propagation process!

Lesser Honeyguide at Cardinal Woodpecker nest hole

Lesser Honeyguide at Cardinal Woodpecker nest hole

NOTE: Lesser Honeyguides parasitise Cardinal Woodpeckers and Pied Barbets in the Western Cape

For more info on our birding day tours out of Cape Town and longer birding tours in South Africa, contact Patrick or Marie-Louise on info@avianleisure.com or browse our website www.avianleisure.com for more info

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