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Woodpeckers & Relatives

Woodpeckers and their relatives, along with the toucans, are members of the order Piciformes. They share the characteristics of nesting in tree holes and having the first and fourth toe pointing backward and the second and third pointing forward (a zygodactyl foot).

The 16 Costa Rican woodpeckers vary in size, from the 9cm-long olivaceous piculet (carpenterito oliváceo; Picumnus olivaceus) to the 37cm-long pale-billed woodpecker (carpintero picoplata; Campephilus guatemalensis). They are frequently heard drumming on resonant branches before they are seen. The drumming is sometimes done for communication, and at other times to excavate a hole for nesting or to dislodge insects, which are the main food.

Relatives include jacamars, barbets, puffbirds, and nunbirds. The male red-headed barbet (barbudo cabecirrojo; Eubucco bourcierii) is striking with its bright red head and chest, yellow bill, green back, and yellow belly. It forages in trees at mid-elevations. The white-fronted nunbird (monja frentiblanca; Monasa morphoes) is an upright-perching black bird of the Caribbean lowlands. It is immediately identified by its bright red bill with white feathers at the base.

Picture 1, Woodpeckers, Costa RicaPicture 2, Woodpeckers, Costa Rica
Picture 3, Woodpeckers, Costa RicaPicture 4, Woodpeckers, Costa Rica
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