“It is well known that woodpeckers are peckers of wood; chiselling into wood for food. Most woodpeckers possess strong beaks that are also used to excavate holes in trees for nests. But for the Rufous Woodpecker (Micropternus brachyurus), I just found out that its nest is excavated within the nest of acrobat ants (Crematogaster sp.). That is amazing because it also preys on the ants. But do you believe that both woodpecker and ants can co-exist during the bird’s nesting period?
“This male Rufous Woodpecker peeping out from its nest was photographed in early June 2013 (above). The nest looked like an elongated ball of mud that was stuck to a tree at a height of about 3 metres. Since not an expert, I cannot verify whether this is the nest of acrobat ants. Here’s an IMAGE for comparison. Please note that there is no sign of any ants in my pictures captured.
“Browsing for more information, I found this ARTICLE, which give a first-hand account of Rufous Woodpeckers attacking a Crematogaster nest for food.
“Another interesting article is found HERE. Check out the last paragraph, which states that ‘ants and Rufous Woodpeckers are friends and they help each other’.
“Unfortunately, there was no further observation as the nest disappeared without a trace after 2 weeks.
“Photo showing a pair of Rufous Woodpeckers, which is sexually dimorphic, captured at a different site, is attached for comparison (above). Noted that in addition to the red cheek patch below its eye, the male Rufous Woodpecker has a darker plumage when compared with the female. Not easy to see the difference in plumage if they are spotted separately.”
Kwong Wai Chong
30th August 2013