Friday, 25 January 2008
Special birds: White-backed Woodpecker
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos is another species that has become very much an "Eastern" bird as it has declined and vanished from most of western Europe. Of all the European Picidae this species is the one most attached to old-growth deciduous or mixed deciduous-coniferous forests and is rarely found in stands that do contain a high volume of old, dead and rotting timber. It does not tolerate overly managed forests, being a specialist that feeds on wood-boring insects and their larvae, and is less adaptable than its relatives. The largest of the five European Dendrocopos species (the so-called "pied" woodpeckers) White-backed can be hard to find (except when nesting) though often easy to observe when finally located. There are two races, the nominate leucotos in northern and central Europe eastwards into Asia, and lilfordi in southern Europe, in the Mediterranean and Balkan countries.