Ecuador has an avifauna diversity that is unparalleled throughout the world. Of the 3000 species of birds inhabiting the continent of South America, over half of those species can be encountered in this small and friendly nation. What makes birding in Ecuador even more appealing is that most of these birds are easily accessible by public transportation.
It is the goal of this blog to highlight the avian beauty of this country through photographic images and in-depth descriptions.
I have been categorizing the thousands of photos that I have
taken over the last few months trying to decide which bird to write about next.
It is not an easy decision as there are so many species and each has a
uniqueness that can only be revealed through close observation. I settled on
the Black-cheeked Woodpecker for its
beauty and the abundant opportunity for encountering this amazing bird.
The Black-cheeked Woodpecker is most often seen in the humid
forests below 800 m (2,600 ft.) but it can also be observed locally in the Mindo area up to 1,500 m (5,000 ft.).
It darts behind tree trunks and gleans the larger branches of tall trees but it
will come out in the open for a good view and some decent photos. It can be
seen in mixed flocks with tanagers and is not extremely aggressive, allowing
the other species to bully them.
Male Black-cheeked Woodpecker (Melanerpes cruentatus)
They are a colorful bird with the males and females fairly
similar in markings. Look for the mid-crown to tell the difference, the male being
red while the female is off-white.
The Black-cheeked Woodpecker is pretty much an insectivore
but will eat fruits and berries when available. Small flocks have been known to
cause significant damage to banana plantations and are considered a bane to farmers.
There are tanager feeders at Milpe Bird
Sanctuary and Mirador Rio Blanco and this lovely bird is known to frequent
them along with the tanagers and other species.
While out walking in the lowlands and foothills of the
western Andean rainforest be watchful for this magnificent woodpecker. Take a
little time to observe its habits and idiosyncrasies to enjoy the full wonder
of this wonderful species.