The Hispaniolan woodpecker (Melanerpes striatus) is a medium-sized woodpecker endemic to the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. The back is covered in yellow and black stripes. Males have a dark red crown and nape while in females, the red colour is restricted to the nape. The tail base is brilliantly red while the tail itself is black.
(Statius Muller, 1776)
The Hispaniolan woodpecker is a gold and black barred bird growing to a length of from 22 to 28 cm (8.7 to 11.0 in). The adult male has a red crown and nape and is larger than the female, with a longer beak. The upper neck is striped black and white and the back and wings are boldly striped in black and gold. The rump is greenish-yellow, with some red on the feather tips, and the upper side of the tail is black with red upper-tail coverts. The underside of the wings is greyish-brown with pale spotting and barring, and the underside of the tail is grey or olive. The fore-crown is grey or buff, the face and throat are grey and the underparts are buff, brown or olive, with some dark streaking on the flanks. The iris is yellow, the beak is long, slender and grey and the legs are grey. The adult female is similar to the male but has a black crown and red nape. The juvenile has a black crown with white and red spotting, an orangeish nape and dark iris.
This woodpecker is quite vocal, emitting a range of sounds including yapping, squeaking, rolling and nasal calls. Drumming is done only occasionally.
Distribution and habitatEdit
This bird is endemic to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, its range extending from the coasts, over the deserts to the mountains in the centre of the island. It is mostly a woodland bird, found in both wet and dry, broadleaved and coniferous forests, but also occurs in mosaic forests, plantations, cactus scrub, mangrove areas, swamps, grassland, palm groves, wooded agricultural areas and urban parks.
This woodpecker forages in small noisy groups; the diet is varied and includes insects, spiders, scorpions, lizards, fruit, seeds, grain and sap. It can catch flying insects on the wing, and larger food items are bashed on an "anvil" to break them up.
Unlike most woodpeckers, the Hispaniolan woodpecker is a social species that takes advantage of having a large number of individual adult birds in the colony to protect a nesting bank or tree. There may be twenty pairs of birds in a colony, with several nesting in the same tree. The nests are excavated in trunks and branches, and discarded holes are reused by parrots, parakeets, trogons, the Antillean piculet and the golden swallow.
- Short, LL (1979). "Burdens of the picid hole-excavating habit" (PDF). Wilson Bulletin. 91 (1): 16–28.