Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Fernandina's flicker feeds on ants, insects, worms, grubs and seeds, with foraging frequently performed on the ground. Food is extracted from the soil and under leaves, on lawns and dusty tracks. Individuals usually forage on their own, but may search in pairs during the breeding season (4). These primarily solitary birds usually come together only to breed (4). Loose 'colonies' have occasionally been recorded at Bermeja in the Zapata Swamp, but sociality is rare and aggression between individuals is common (2). Nesting takes place from March to June, with courtship frequently involving aerial chases. Clutches of three to five eggs are laid in cavities and holes in trees, which are then incubated for around 18 days. At around 22 days old, young begin to fledge the nest (4).
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Description

This medium-sized, long-billed woodpecker is a rare Cuban endemic (2) (3). Overall body colouration is a yellowish-brown with heavy black barring, while the head is cinnamon-coloured finely streaked with black (3) (4). Upperparts and the wings show stronger, denser black tones, while underparts are more predominantly yellow (2). Males have a black malar stripe, whereas the female's malar is heavily mottled with white (3) (4).
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Distribution

Range Description

Colaptes fernandinae was once widespread but never abundant on Cuba, and is now rare and localised; there are probably fewer than 900 individuals in total. It is currently known from Soroa, Mil Cumbres, Nortey, and Loma del Taburete in Pinar del Río province; the Zapata Swamp in Matanzas province (from at least twelve localities); Monte Ramonal, near Corralillo, El Dorado, and Isabela de Sagua in northern Villa Clara province; Aguada de Pasajeros and Rodas in Cienfuegos province; near Gibara (in the Campos de Veloso) and near Velazco (El Recreo), in Holguín province; Jobabo in Las Tunas province; Cienaga de Birama in Granma Province; and Sierra de Najasa (at La Belén and El Chorrillo) in Camagüey province (Mitchell 1998, A. Mitchell in litt. 1998, G. Kirwan in litt. 2005, A. Kirkconnell in litt. 2005). There are also recent records from eight localities in Santiago de Cuba province, where the most important locality is La Tabla (Mitchell et al. 2000, A. Kirkconnell in litt. 2005). The largest population persists in the Zapata Swamp, where total numbers were estimated at 300-400 pairs in 1998 (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998, A. Kirkconnell in litt. 1999), falling to 250-300 in 2007 (A. Mitchell in litt. 2007). Even within Zapata Swamp it continues to decline, for instance, in Bermeja in the early 90's there were between 60 to 80 pairs, in 2007 this had dropped to between 14 to 18 pairs (A. Mitchell in litt. 2007).

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Range

Locally in palm groves of Cuba.

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Range

Patchily distributed across Cuba. The total population is estimated at just 600 to 800 birds and appears to be decreasing (2).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It breeds in palm-savannah, where it nests in dead and live palm trees, especially Palma cana (Mitchell and Wells 1997, J. A. Jackson in litt. 1999), and also inhabits pastures, swamps, forest edge and dense woodland (Winkler et al. 1995). Coiurtship takes place in late December and January, and nest excavation begins in February or March; breeding takes place in March-June (Winkler et al. 1995), and loose "colonies" have occasionally been found at Bermeja in the Zapata Swamp (Wells and Mitchell 1995, Mitchell 1998, A. Mitchell in litt. 1998, 2007). However, it is mostly solitary, and aggression between conspecifics is common (Wells and Mitchell 1995). There may be an association with palms used as a source of thatch, because fungus invades such trees making them more suitable for nesting (J. A. Jackson in litt. 1999).


Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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Open woodland and pastures with palms are preferred habitats, although the species is also found in denser woodland and marshes (3) (4). Closely associated with palms, which are required for nesting holes (3).
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
A2c+3c+4c;B1ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v);C2a(i);D1

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s
Jackson, J., Kirkconnell, A., Kirwan, G. & Mitchell, A.

Justification
This species is classified as Vulnerable because although it has a very small population, which is severely fragmented and rapidly declining, the largest subpopulation in Zapata is too large for the species to qualify as Endangered.

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Status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2006 (1).
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Population

Population
The population is estimated to number 600-800 individuals (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998, A. Kirkconnell in litt. 1999). This roughly equates to 400-530 mature individuals.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
Logging and clearance for agriculture are severe threats. Nest-trees are often shared with the Cuban Parrot Amazona leucocephala, and trappers frequently topple the trees to collect young parrots, causing both the loss of the woodpecker's brood and the permanent destruction of the nest-site (Mitchell and Wells 1997). Community members will often fell a tree containing a woodpecker nest hole just to check if there is a parrot present, or even fell trees with woodpecker nests when there are clearly no parrots present, presumably to eat the eggs or nestlings (A. Mitchell in litt. 2007). Hurricanes have a devastating impact on the dead palm trees, as evidenced at Bermeja after Hurricane Lilli in 1996 (Mitchell 1998, A. Mitchell in litt. 1998), and have recently hit the species's stronghold in Zapata, causing significant destruction (A. Mitchell in litt. 2005). West Indian Woodpeckers Melanerpes superciliaris have been observed to prey on the eggs and chicks (Wells and Mitchell 1995).

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Fernandina's flicker has been down-listed from Endangered to Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List because its largest sub-population in Zapata is thought to number more than 250 individuals (2). Nevertheless, the bird has a very small population, which is severely fragmented and rapidly declining, largely due to habitat loss (2) (3). Logging and extensive forest clearance for agriculture are at least partly responsible for the bird's decline and continue to pose significant threats. Hurricanes have also had a devastating impact on the palm trees on which the species depends (2) (4). Nest trees are often shared with the Cuban parrot Amazona leucocephala, and parrot trappers frequently topple the trees to collect young parrots, destroying both the woodpecker's brood and the nest site (2). Additionally, West Indian woodpeckers Melanerpes superciliaris have been observed to prey on the eggs and chicks of Fernandina's flicker (2).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Conservation Actions Underway
The entire Zapata Swamp is a reserve, but there are no available resources to effectively police the area (Mitchell et al. 2000).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue to monitor population trends. Monitor rates of habitat loss and degradation. Design and distribute posters in villages around the Zapata Swamp to raise awareness of the importance and vulnerability of this species and others such as A. leucocephala (Mitchell et al. 2000). Fit nest-boxes to live palms within and around present nesting areas (Mitchell et al. 2000). Consider controlling West Indian Woodpeckers at key sites to reduce competition for nest sites (A. Mitchell in litt. 2007).

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Conservation

The Cuban government has created a number of reserves (4), including the entire Zapata Swamp area, which contains the stronghold for this species, but there are inadequate resources to effectively police and protect the area (2) (4). Proposed conservation measures for future consideration include raising awareness of the vulnerability of this rare woodpecker, through displaying posters in areas where it still exists, and fitting nest-boxes to live palms within and around known nesting areas (2) (4).
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Wikipedia

Fernandina's flicker

Fernandina's Flicker (Colaptes fernandinae) is a species of bird in the woodpecker family. Endemic to Cuba, its small population of 600–800 birds makes it one of the most endangered species of woodpecker in the world. The Fernandina's Flicker is threatened by habitat loss.

Description[edit]

The Fernandina's Flicker is a medium-sized woodpecker, ranging in length from 14–15 inches (33–35 cm).[2] Overall, it is mostly yellowish-tan, covered with varying amounts of black barring; its underwings are yellow. The male has a black moustachial stripe, which the female lacks.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The Fernandina's Flicker is endemic to Cuba. Though it was apparently never common, it was formerly found across the island.[3] Now, however, it is restricted to isolated locations in nine of the country's 15 provinces: Camagüey, Cienfuegos, Granma, Holguín, Las Tunas, Matanzas, Pinar del Río, Santiago de Cuba, and Villa Clara.[4] The largest population is found in Zapata Swamp, where some 120 pairs are estimated to live, though this number may have dropped following recent hurricanes.[3][4]

The flicker's natural habitats include dry forests, dry savanna, swamps, and pastures.

Behavior[edit]

Though not a particularly social bird, the Fernandina's Flicker will sometimes form loose colonies of up to 15 pairs.[2] It regularly fights with other woodpeckers.

Feeding[edit]

Like its congeners, the Fernandina's Flicker often forages—primarily for ants, but also for other insects, worms, grubs and seeds—on the ground.[5][2] It uses its strong bill to probe the ground, and flick aside leaf litter.

Breeding[edit]

The Fernandina's Flicker breeds between March and June;[2] during courtship, pairs regularly engage in high-flying chases. Like all woodpeckers, it is a cavity nester. Recent fieldwork has shown that it prefers to use nest holes started by West Indian Woodpeckers; the flicker usurps the original owners, finishes off the excavation work, and moves in.[5] The female lays a clutch of three to five white eggs,[2] which are incubated for a period of about 18 days. Young fledge after 22 days.[5]

Voice[edit]

Though it is regularly silent, the flicker's calls include a repeated wicka (the onomatopoeic sound which gives the genus its common name), and a loud series of pic notes.[5]

Conservation[edit]

With an estimated population of only 600–800 birds, the Fernandina's Flicker is one of the most endangered woodpeckers in the world.[5] Overall, that population is declining, principally because of habitat loss.[1] Farming, logging, hurricane damage and the caged bird trade—trappers bring down whole palm trees in order to capture nestling Cuban Amazons (Amazona leucocephala leucocephala)[6][7]—are combining to squeeze the remaining birds into smaller and smaller isolated tracts.[5] In addition, West Indian Woodpeckers have been observed killing the chicks of Fernandina's Flickers.[7]

Sources[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Colaptes fernandinae". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Raffaele, Herbert; James Wiley, Orlando Garrido, Allan Keith & Janis Raffaele (1998). A Guide to the Birds of the West Indies. Princeton University Press. p. 349. ISBN 0-691-08736-9. 
  3. ^ a b Winkler & Christie 2002, p. 514
  4. ^ a b "BirdLife International Species factsheet: Colaptes fernandinae". BirdLife International. Retrieved 2007-12-07. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Leonard, Pat (Summer 2007). "Fernandina's Flicker: Flashy flickers are few and far between". BirdScope 21 (3): 20. Retrieved 2007-12-07. 
  6. ^ Mitchell, Andy; Lyn Wells. "The threatened birds of Cuba project report". Cotinga 7 (1): 69–71. 
  7. ^ a b Wechsler, Doug (Mar–Apr 1998). "Dark times for Cuba's Sabal palms - endangered trees of Zapata Swamp". International Wildlife 28 (2). 

References[edit]

Winkler, Hans; Christie, David A. (2002). "Family Picidae (Woodpeckers)". Handbook of the Birds of the World, Volume 7: Jacamars to Woodpeckers. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. pp. 296–555. ISBN 84-87334-37-7. 

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