Habits of three endemic West Indian woodpeckers (Aves, Picidae). American Museum novitates ; no. 2549

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New York, N.Y. : American Museum of Natural History
"The Antillean piculet (Nesoctites micromegas), the Guadeloupe (Melanerpes herminieri), and Hispaniolan woodpeckers (M. striatus), little known, endemic West Indian woodpeckers, were studied during March, 1973. The piculet ranges widely on Hispaniola, in suitably dense undergrowth, mainly gleaning for insects more like a passerine species than a woodpecker. Five calls are described, including the piping call employed in antiphonal calling. Meager data on displays are presented. I advocate the tribal separation of monotypic Nesoctites (in the Nesoctitini) from other piculets (Picumnini). The Guadeloupe woodpecker, endemic to Guadeloupe, and the only picid in the Lesser Antilles, occurs in pairs mainly in western Guadeloupe. It forages diversely for insects and probably fruits. Regular drumming and demonstration drumming and wa and chur calls are described and compared with those of other melanerpine species. The Guadeloupe woodpecker may be related to Melanerpes portoricensis or to continental species of the M. chrysauchen complex. Sharing Hispaniola with the Antillean piculet is the much larger Hispaniolan woodpecker, a variably social species that partly nests colonially and even may engage in communal nesting activity (nest sharing by birds other than a pair). The Hispaniolan woodpecker's varied vocalizations are described. Demonstration drumming occurs sporadically near the nest site. Bowing and swinging are the two most conspicuous displays, rendered separately and in different circumstances. A bill directing posture, a bill raised posture, a gliding dihedral flight display, and courtship feeding also are described, and wing flicking possibly is a display. Up to 19 nests were found in a colony, but most Hispaniolan woodpeckers probably nest in solitary pairs or in small, loose colonies of two or three pairs. Large colonies often are destroyed by humans who consider the birds a pest because of their depredations on fruits. Within colonies pairs defend variable areas near their nest. Helpers occurred at several nests. Communal nesting tendencies are indicated by one bird feeding at two nests, and by lack of teritoriality between some pairs nesting almost side-by-side. Young are fed both indirectly through regurgitation (probably of small insects), and directly (held in the bill), involving large insects and berries. Courtship feeding birds also utilize both feeding methods. The taxonomy of this woodpecker is assessed on its behavior, ecology, zoogeography, and external morphology. The evidence derived from these, points to the melanerpine relationship of this picid, contradicting evidence (Olson, 1972) from a few functionally obscure anatomical features purported to indicate that it is not so related. A brief consideration of the melanerpine woodpeckers, including the genera Xiphidiopicus, Melanerpes and Sphyrapicus, provides a framework for discussion and treatment of the Hispaniolan woodpecker within Melanerpes (M. striatus)--P. 3.
44 p. : ill. ; 26 cm.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 43-44).