Nest of the Rufous Woodpecker

posted in: Nests | 7

“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

7 Responses

  1. That’s an incredible nest site! What a pity it disappeared before you could check it out again.

  2. What could have happened to the nest? I hope it wasn’t mistaken for a beehive and removed by the authorities. Or perhaps there was strong wind/rain which dislodged it?

    • It can also be mistaken for a wasp nest, in which case its removal will be extra fast. Or a termite nest.

  3. There was a ants nest about as round as a basket ball in my mulbery tree, been there for about a year, i noticed the tree didnt like it,so i started to prod at it,breaking it too bits, to discover there was baby birds inside it,no entry or exit to be seen. this has amazed me….

    • according to my knowledge woodpecker always make nest in tree hollow,but its amazing u find a baby bird inside it!

  4. Mayank Ghedia

    Kwong Wai Chong,
    hi, i recently captured few images of rufous woodpecker in Dandeli, in Karnataka India. i checked it in the book for birds of Indian subcontinent…and found the difference about male and female…. but in the pics it didn’t have clear indication of the red patch on the coverts…and in searching for more information i landed up here…..! i was hinted for the subspecies ” celeus brachyurus…” know more for it..!

    if possible can u please visit the link below and share your feedback.?

    mayank ghedia,india

    • Kwong Wai Chong

      Hi Mayank Ghedia
      Thanks for your comment.
      Sorry, but I am no expert and will not be able to provide any further info with regard to your woodpecker.

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