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Tortoise woodpecker

By Amplion
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Habitat: coast of former Mediterranean sea – Asia Minor, Balkan, Appenines, Pyrenees, Atlas mountains.
One more species of the carnivorous woodpeckers had appeared on Earth in Neocene. It is one of large species of woodpeckers: the bird is crow-sized. It has rather short rounded tail and strong four-toed legs. The bird is not able to walk, similarly to all woodpeckers, and moves on the ground by jumps. The tortoise woodpecker has spotty colouring: on grey background there are chestnut spots, head is entirely ruby-red (at females it is dimmer, than at males). The beak at birds of both sexes has almost white color.
But not so much colouring, as food predilections of this species had determined the name of bird.
Usually tortoise woodpecker eats various insects. But it does not hollow trees in searches of forage, and simply pecks from the ground beetles, large grasshoppers and other big insects. But meeting the tortoise or large snail bird applies completely another way of food getting. It presses snails by paw against the ground and, having broken their shells by one or two exact beak impacts, swallows meat, having shaken from it splinters of shell. Attacking tortoises, it perches on their carapace and orderly pecks it. The usual tactics of tortoises against such attack (to hide in armor and to wait) does not rescue them. Even tortoises belonging to species closing head and paws by parts of carapace, cannot feel like protected from this bird. Eventually, the woodpecker punches carapace, kills the reptile, and regales itself with its meat. The attacked turtle has three ways of rescue: to creep near to animals which may frighten off a woodpecker from its back, to creep in dense prickly bush, or to dive into water. Reservoirs in savanna meet not so frequently, but it is the best way to protect from this bird. Usually, if the tortoise creeps through bushes, the woodpecker watches it, and attacks in a right moment. Some water turtles having long neck, can bite a woodpecker, having contrived – but such way of protection is effective only against young and inexperienced birds.
Tortoise woodpeckers are monodins, but pairs at them are formed only for the nesting period. These birds nest in tree-trunk hollows hollowing them out, or in cracks of rocks (in hilly terrain or in desert). The tortoise woodpecker is relatively strong, and can break skull of sheep-sized animal; therefore predatory animals avoid attacking this bird. If the predator tries to ravage nest, woodpeckers at first warns it by cries (the voice of this species sounds as lingering “dry” creaking warble), and then attacks it, striking impacts in its head and nose. Woodpeckers sometimes can be predators, attacking rodents and small birds. They stun and kill catch by strong impacts in head by beak. However, more often these woodpeckers do not attack mammal and birds, preferring to them sluggish tortoises and snails which cannot protect themselves actively. Usually these birds attack small animals during nesting and at shortage of the basic forage.
In clutch of tortoise woodpeckers there is up to four white eggs. The posterity hatches after three weeks of incubating.
There is close species of woodpeckers: crab woodpecker (Testudopicus cancriphagus). Its ecology appreciably differs from those at tortoise woodpecker. This species lives in mangrove thickets. Its area is in separation from an area of tortoise woodpecker: it includes southern and southeast coast of Eurasia – the Jakarta Coast and coast of Bay of Bengal.
This bird is similar to tortoise woodpecker in size, but strongly differs from it in colouring. The crab woodpecker has monotonous ash-blue color of stomach and neck, and its wings of sand color. Head at this species is also red, but beaks at the male and females differ in coloring: at males beak is white, and at females black. This species eat beetles and snails numerous in mangrove woods therefore this bird it is not so aggressive and territorial like its desert congener. This species is not interested in tortoises at all: in mangrove thickets turtles live in water, and because of it are absolutely inaccessible to this woodpecker. But the bird actively hunts crabs – from small, coin-sized ones, up to huge mangrove robbers. By strong beak the crab woodpecker punches their armors and pecks meat. But only largest and skilled birds hunt huge crabs because, as against phlegmatic turtles being a food to tortoise woodpeckers, the crab can catch and eat the inexperienced hunter itself.
Crab woodpeckers are monodins, forming pairs to all life, but reunite only during nesting. Outside of nesting season birds feed at different edges of the common territory, occasionally exchanging by cries.
Nesting of crab woodpecker occurs twice per one year. Nests are located in tree-trunk hollows; birds hollow them out themselves, or expand available ones. By nesting features this bird resembles tortoise woodpecker.
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anonymous's avatar
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Chrestovenator's avatar
This is a really awesome idea, something I could see happening multiple times in different places. I've tinkered with the idea of carnivorous woodpeckers before, but the idea of having them use their special talent to break through tortoise shells never occured to me. I like it a lot!
Amplion's avatar
thank you very much, i wish, idea is not from me ... :)
electreel's avatar
Awesome picture!
Amplion's avatar
electreel's avatar
You´re welcome
PonchoFirewalker01's avatar
Nice and I did had an idea similar to that.
Amplion's avatar
Thank you! This species of birds had been discovered by Simon, the forum member.
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