Syrian Woodpecker

Dendrocopos syriacus

نقار الخشب السوري

Status: Common

The Syrian Woodpecker belongs to the Picidae family in the Piciformes order. It is 21-24 cm in size and 66-79 grams in weight. The Woodpecker is outstanding among local birds for his striking plumage of black, white and red. The head, wings and tail have a black and white pattern from above and almost all the under-parts are white while the vent is red. The Woodpecker is built for living on the trees. Its foot is designed with two fingers pointing frontward and two backward enabling easy movements in all directions on the tree trunk. The head is well constructed for drilling holes in the trees: the beak is long and strong, the neck muscles are well-developed, and shock absorbers in the skull protect the brain from the hard knocks. The tongue is as long as two times the head, it's sticky and has a rough texture, characteristics which enable the bird to extract the worms and larvae from their burrows. The flight is wave-like and consists of swift wing beats on the rising "wave" and a fall on the descending wave. The flight is usually for short distances. The Woodpecker usually lands on the bottom part of the trunk and climbs upward while stopping to knock on the trunk with its beak. It stops to listen for the sound of insects or the indication of burrowing under the bark. If there is an indication of insects, it will drill into the bark to uncover the burrow and with its long tongue will catch the fat larvae. The Woodpecker has a varied diet including fruits and nuts in addition to insects. The Woodpecker places nuts and acorns in forks in the branches, a "cracking station" where it cracks the nuts open and eats them. The courtship involves ritual vocalizations like drumming, long and short calls, as well as a short aggressive hoarse call. The burrowing of the nest that begins in March can be easily observed as it is done during the day and the calls of the drilling can be heard from afar. After one month of industrious work the nest is ready with a singular precisely round entrance with a 4.5 cm diameter that leads through a vertical tunnel to a large chamber at a depth of 40 centimeters. In the second half of April the individuals couple up and the eggs are laid. The incubation time is only 11 days due to the poor nesting conditions, however, the nestlings are fed for another 26 days. The excrement of the nestlings is removed from the nest to prevent noxious gases from accumulating in the nest and displacing the oxygen. The distribution of the Woodpecker has expanded dramatically in the last 150 years. Apparently, the expansion of cultivated areas and urban parks has enabled the population to spread from Turkey to south and east Europe, and south to this area.

International conservation status: LC

Regional conservation status: LC

Migratory behaviour: Resident breeder

Sites: Beitillu, Umm at-Tut, Wadi Al-Quff nature reserves