Black-cheeked Woodpecker (Melanerpes pucherani)

This is medium sized woodpecker that can be found in the Caribbean and northern part of the country. The male has red back and top of the head, with a yellow patch in the front, while the female has whitish top of the head (nape). Both have black cheeks, which give this species its name. Other notable features are its black wings with white dots, black back with white barring, yellowish flanks with black barring and red belly, which gives the bird a very contrasty look. It’s call is a piercing chirrr, chirrr, chirrr that can be heard from afar and make identification of the species easier.

Like most woodpeckers, they make holes in trees for nesting, which are then reused by other species, hence their success can indirectly impact population sizes for other species. It’s not uncommon to see either the male or female inside the hole, with just the head out, watching out for potential predators as they keep their eggs or chicks safe inside. Something more peculiar is seeing these birds pecking at public lampposts made out of concrete, I have not yet deciphered why would they do that. On feeders, they like to eat papaya, but they will also catch small insects for food.

Woodpeckers like this Black-cheeked provide shelter for other bird species to rear they young. Many times the nests that they empty are reused by similarly sized birds to construct theirs, with Emerald Toucanets as one such example, but even some owls will make use of them.
A female Black-cheeked Woodpecker perches on a branch which has been colonized by epiphytes, which are plants that grow in trees instead of soil.
Capturing action and behavior is one of the objectives of a wildlife photographer, and in this case it was the turn of a male woodpecker dashing through the branch. What is not seen in the frame is the other birds that he is going to fight with for a piece of fruit.
Another female, now perched on a broader tree branch full of moss. Most of the time they would land on one side of the branch, then dash towards the fruit feeder in the center.
These woodpeckers are small when compared with Pale-billed Woodpeckers, even the epiphyte to the right-hand side looks higher than them.
A unusual sight is to have both a Great Kiskadee and a Black-cheeked Woodpecker perched on the exact same branch. Seems like a truce taking place before going back into battle for the fruit.
black-cheeked woodpecker, male - melanerpes pucherani - carpintero carinegro, macho
Woodpeckers perch upside down sometimes. In this occasion, a male perched below an inclined branch
Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Male - Melanerpes pucherani - Carpintero Carinegro, Macho (1)
This bird is bigger than most tanagers, which helps to get priority when feeding on fruit. They do not display aggressive behavior, like some others did
Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Male - Melanerpes pucherani - Carpintero Carinegro, Macho (2)
The male Black-cheeked Woodpecker is pretty in my opinion. A female was also hanging around, but I did not get a picture of her
Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Male - Melanerpes pucherani - Carpintero Carinegro, Macho (5)
When seen from the front, the red belly looks conspicuous, even under the shade. Also note the barred flanks with some yellowish on the belly and chest

One thought on “Black-cheeked Woodpecker (Melanerpes pucherani)

  1. Pingback: Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus) | The Nature Admirer

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