Appearance The Nubian Woodpecker is a small, 8" (20cm) bird, although large for a Woodpecker. Olive-brown upperparts, heavily spotted with white. The tail is barred with deep yellow and has bright yellow shafts. Its chin and throat are plain creamy-white. The neck and underparts are white, heavily spotted with black. Its ear coverts are streaked black and white. The eyes are red. Strong, zygodactyl toes (2 pairs of toes, one facing front, one back) and chisel-shaped bills. Feet and toes are grey, bill is grey-black and horn-coloured beneath. The male has a red crown, nape and malar stripes ('moustache'). Red on the female is confined to the nape and her crown is spotted with black and white.
Habits Nubian Woodpeckers are monogamous birds, usually seen in pairs, although they feed alone. They are shy and difficult to photograph - often keeping a tree trunk between them and any intruders. Nubian Woodpeckers excavate their own nest cavities in trees, hammering with their sharp bills and relying on a cranial adaptation to protect their brains from the repeated shocks. An average of 3 eggs are laid and incubation takes approximately two weeks. The chicks fledge after a further four weeks.
Diet Nubian Woodpeckers eat insects, ants, termites and occasionally spiders. Using long, sticky, bristly tongues, they extract their prey from cavities in wood.
Resident Nubian Woodpeckers are seen all over Kenya, except in the east. They are commonly seen in dry acacia woodlands and savanna with fallen trees.
Extra Nubian Woodpecker Facts Nubian Woodpeckers have an undulating flight and their call is a distinct "teek~teek~tek~tek" that slows at the end and is often sung by both partners simultaneously.
Photographs Photographed in Kenya's Meru National Park and Olare Orok Conservancy, bordering Mara GR.