My generation thinks of large woodpeckers being like "Woody Woodpecker" a Warner Brothers buffoonish cartoon character that could peck wood at the carving speed of a chainsaw. Anything wooden was whittled down in TV seconds to nothing, especially if it supported an authoritarian figure who then fell to a painful crash, causing Woody to give his famous laugh... Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha - Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha - ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.
Hollywood Woody was fashioned after a group of special woodpeckers within the Picidae family referred to as crested. They are large and have flaming red heads. One species of this group lives on Ambergris.
Ambergris' male lineated woodpecker has a red moustache that adds to his dramatic ana somewhat comical appearance. His large black body is contrasted with white bars thus the name 'lineatus'. (The female has a black moustache stripe.)
Belize is home for 25 species of woodpeckers but none have caught my attention like the lineated.
Bubba has been hanging around the new Mata Chica Restaurant behind which a pair have taken up residence along the resort's electrical corridor. Supposedly Bubba is observing their mating habits! However, I suspect his propensity for fine Italian garlic bread has much to do with his selecting this site.
The courtship and selection of a prospective nest site involves a slow, rhythmic fonn of drumming or tapping. Red-headed woodpeckers engage in reverse mounting in which the female mounts the male before he mounts her. Both sexes excavate the nest cavity, usually on Ambergris it's a dead coconut tree.
Woodpeckers cling to the trees by means of strong claws, with second and third toes directed forward, the fourth out to the side and the first or smallest toe below. This configuration is called zygodactyl.
Perhaps the most remarkable feature of a woodpecker is the long protrusible (able to stick out) tongue. This is supported by hyoid bones so long that they extend around the back of the skull. The hyoid are attached to muscles that enable Woody to dart his sticky tongue in and out with great rapidity collecting a variety of small wood boring insects such as tennites or ants.
Just yesterday large amounts of malathion were introduced to their diets by means of aerial spraying for mosquitoes. I'm curious as to the effect it will have on the island's population of insect eating birds. I'm sure this spraying was well thought out and it was a difficult decision for those God gave dominion over the island.