Dendropicos goertae

Physical characteristics: Gray woodpeckers are small woodpeckers with a long, straight, rather wide bill, unbarred green or brownish green upperparts, a red rump, a brownish black tail, and gray under parts with an orange-to-yellow belly patch and some barring on the flanks. Males have a pale, striped, gray head with red on the back of the head and neck, while females lack the red on the head. Adults are about 8 inches (20 centimeters) long and weigh between 1.4 and 1.9 ounces (40.5 and 52.5 grams).

Gray woodpeckers eat insects, ants, termites, beetle larvae, and other arthropods. They search for their food on the ground, in the air, and on live and dead trees. (Illustration by Gillian Harris. Reproduced by permission.)

Geographic range: They range throughout the forests and savanna habitats in central and west Africa; from sea level to 9,800 feet (3,000 meters).

Habitat: Gray woodpeckers inhabit wooded and savanna areas, thickets with large trees, riverine (near rivers) forests, gardens, and mangroves.

Diet: Their diet consists of insects, ants, termites, beetle larvae, and other arthropods. They forage on the ground, in live and dead trees, and in the air.

Behavior and reproduction: Gray woodpeckers are found in pairs and family groups. They move quickly through its habitat, and often remain near forest edges. Their call is a loud and fast "peet-peet-peet-peet." The nesting period is from December to June in west Africa; December to February and July to September in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and February to July and September to November in eastern Africa. The breeding pair digs out the nest cavity from a tree, usually 1 to 60 feet (0.3 to 18.3 meters) off the ground. Clutch size is two to four eggs. There is no known information about incubation, parental care, or fledging.

Gray woodpeckers and people: There is no known significant relationship between gray woodpeckers and people.

Conservation status: Gray woodpeckers are not threatened. They are fairly common to common in the areas where they live. ■

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