The baby woodpecker’s divided red crown

Okay, here’s a question for evolutionary ornithologists…or basically anyone who knows the answer: Why do the chicks of great spotted woodpeckers (Dendrocopos major) have a bifurcated red crown? The mother’s head is completely black her red feathers being limited to the underside of her hind quarters (her so-called undertail coverts) , while the adult male has in addition a red patch on the nape of his neck.

I have photographed this family of D. major over the last few weeks coming and going at the nesting site in a tree near Rampton Pocket Park north of Cambridge, England. Saw the chick for the first time on the 20th May 2017.

The lesser spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos minor) and the green woodpecker (Picus viridis) both have red caps. The green, also known as a yaffle, has red bars below the eyes emanating from the rear of the beak, otherwise mostly green/greenish yellow.

First sighting of a D. major this year in Rampton was end of February. This one is nesting at the Cottenham end of Rampton Spinney, I’ve seen a pair there since but not photographed those again. The nesting pair of great spotted woodpeckers I’ve photographed more recently are in a tree on the edge of Giant’s Hill.

Author: bob投注平台

Award-winning freelance science writer, author of Deceived Wisdom. Sharp-shooting photographer and wannabe rockstar.