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Magellanic Woodpecker - Campephilus magellanicus
Magellanic Woodpecker - Campephilus magellanicus

[Image: Magellanic-woodpecker-feeding_zpsfcc5faca.jpg]

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Piciformes
Family: Picidae
Genus: Campephilus
Species: Campephilus magellanicus

The Magellanic Woodpecker (Campephilus magellanicus) is a very large woodpecker found along the Andes of Chile and southwestern Argentina; it is resident within its range. This species is the southern-most example of the genus Campephilus, which includes the famous Ivory-billed Woodpecker (C. principalis).

[Image: Head-profile-of-male-magellanic-woodpeck...66b47f.jpg]

The Magellanic Woodpecker is 36 to 45 cm (14 to 18 in) in length. Males of this species weigh 312-363 g (11-13 oz), and females weigh 276-312 g (9.7-11 oz). Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 20.5 to 23 cm (8.1 to 9.1 in), the tail is 13.9 to 16.8 cm (5.5 to 6.6 in), the bill is 4.3 to 6 cm (1.7 to 2.4 in) and the tarsus is 3.3 to 3.9 cm (1.3 to 1.5 in). They are the largest South American woodpeckers and one of the largest woodpeckers in the world. Among the species known to be extant, only the non-neotropical members of the Dryocopus genus and the Great Slaty Woodpeckers (Mulleripicus pulverulentus) are larger-bodied. With the likely extinct of the Ivory-billed and Imperial Woodpeckers (Campephilus imperialis), the Magellanic Woodpecker is the largest remaining member of the Campephilus genus.
This species is mainly pure black, with a white wing patch and a grey, chisel-like beak. Males have a crimson head and crest. Females have a mainly black head, but there is an area of red coloration near the base of the bill. Juvenile Magellanic Woodpeckers resemble females of the species, but have a smaller crest and have a browner tinge to their plumage. In its range, this bird is unmistakable in appearance.
Several vocalizations are emitted by both sexes. Further information is needed to ascertain the function and role of these sounds. One frequent vocalizations is an explosive, nasal call (tsie-yaa or pi-caa) given single or in a series (up to 7, sometimes more). Another loud call, usually from pairs, is a gargling call, which normally is emitted in series: prrr-prr-prrr or weeerr-weeeeerr. Like many species in Campephilus, their drum is a loud double knock.

[Image: Male-magellanic-woodpecker-back-profile_zpsbc6261f1.jpg][Image: Magellanic-woodpecker-female_zpscebc133e.jpg]
Male (left) & Female (right)

Magellanic Woodpeckers inhabit mature Nothofagus and Nothofagus-Austrocedrus forests, where they feed mainly on wood-boring grubs and adult beetles (Coleoptera and Lepidoptera) as well as spiders. Occasionally, other foods may supplement the diet, including sap and fruits as well as small reptiles, bats and the eggs and nestlings of passerines. The species commonly co-occurs with the Chilean Flicker (Colaptes pitius) and the Striped Woodpecker (Veniliornis lignarius) but do not directly compete with them due to differing body sizes and habitat and prey preferences. These woodpeckers commonly feed in pairs or small family groups and are very active in their food searching; they spend most of the daytime looking for prey. They generally use live trees, but also feed on dead substrates such as fallen or broken trees lying on the ground, although generally spend little time doing so. Once the snow disappears from the ground in spring, Magellanic Woodpeckers look for prey on humid lower tree trunks. In Tierra del Fuego, Magellanic Woodpeckers forage on decaying and dead trees around ponds hosting the introduced American Beaver (Castor canadensis). Family groups also roost together. In one case, 5 individuals were observed roosting in an approximately 40 cm (16 in)-vertical depth hole. Breeding pairs are highly territorial and commonly try to aggressive displace and even attack conspecifics, sometimes doing so cooperatively with the juveniles they had raised prior years. When they are actively rearing nestlings, the juveniles are aggressively kept at a distance by their parents.
The Magellanic Woodpecker breeds in the Southern Hemisphere's springtime, from October to January. Both sexes cooperate in excavating the nest in a tree trunk. The nesting holes are located at differing heights depending on the tree species and local habitat characteristics. The nest cavity will typically be from 5–15 m (16–49 ft) above the ground. Females lay from 1 to 4 eggs, with a great majority of nest containing two eggs. The monogamous-breeding parents share all duties in nest excavation, incubation, territorial- and predator-defense and young rearing. Adults normally breed every second year, a feature not documented in any other woodpecker species. Incubation lasts for 15 to 17 days, with the male reportedly doing almost all nocturnal incubation. It is not uncommon for the younger of the two nestlings to die from starvation. The young will fledge at 45 to 50 days. After two to three years being raised by and then assisting their parents, the young Magellanic Woodpeckers become sexually mature. Successful breeding and pair bonds, however, doesn't usually occur until 4 to 5 years of age. Several potential predators are known, being almost exclusively avian raptors. These include White-throated Hawks (Buteo albigula), Variable Hawks (Buteo polyosoma), Bicolored Hawks (Accipiter bicolor) and Southern Crested Caracaras (Caracara plancus) (the latter most likely a predator only of young). When they encounter these potential predators while not nesting, Magellanic Woodpecker usually respond by being quiet and staying still. However, raptorial birds are often aggressively attacked during the nesting season.

[Image: Head-profile-of-female-magellanic-woodpe...62cfe1.jpg]

Currently, the species is listed as of Least Concern but population reductions have been reported. Forest loss and fragmentation are affecting the temperate forests of southern South America at an increasing rate, so these practices also represent a threat for the Magellanic Woodpecker. The distribution of the species has contracted and was fragmented as a consequence of native forest clearance, especially in south-central Chile, where the species now is restricted to protected and relict areas. Changes in structural forest components after timber extraction, forest conversion to exotic plantations, and fragmentation due to forest clearance are the main threats to Magellanic Woodpecker populations. The species is protected from hunting in both Chile and Argentina where is not or very rarely illegally hunted.
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Invasive Mink Threatens South America's Largest Woodpecker

By Laura Poppick, Staff Writer | October 14, 2013 07:26am ET

[Image: woodpecker_zpsfe59697c.jpg]
The Magellanic woodpecker is the largest woodpecker species in South America.

Invasive American minks may threaten the largest woodpecker species in South America, according to new research.

The Magellanic woodpecker — a relative of the extinct ivory-billed woodpecker — lives throughout the Andes of Chile and Argentina. The large birds only produce one offspring per year and maintain broad territorial boundaries of about 1 square kilometer (0.4 square miles) per male-female pair, limiting the density and growth of their population.

Still, the charismatic birds maintain stable populations by holing up in branchless, dead trees that carnivores struggle to climb. Until now, there have been no records of predation on the birds.

But researchers based at the University of North Texas in Denton and the University of Santiago in Chile report they have now found the first evidence of Magellanic predation on Navarino Island — a 955-square-mile (2,473 square kilometers) island off the coast of Southern Chile — by the American mink, a carnivore native to northern North America that was introduced to South America in the 1930s for fur farming. Minks that escaped these farms have since multiplied and have become an invasive species, without any natural predators in the region. [In Photos: The Peskiest Alien Mammals]

Though the team did not make direct observations of a mink attacking a woodpecker, they collected several pieces of evidence to argue their case, which they detailed earlier this month in the journal Biological Invasions.

For instance, the team found an adult Magellanic woodpecker — which they had outfitted with a radio-tag for an unrelated study — dead within a mink den. While it's possible a mink had found the bird already dead and scavenged it in the den, this type of behavior would be atypical of carnivores that tend to hunt live prey, said Jaime Jimenez, a researcher at the University of North Texas and a co-author on the paper.

On a separate occasion, the team observed a mink creep up on a woodpecker, looking ready to pounce at about 1 foot away (30 centimeters) until a student scared it off to prevent the attack.

And, finally, the team stationed cameras around the island, revealing footage of minks and woodpeckers feeding in the same areas of the forest floor — on separate occasions, but sometimes within minutes of each other — suggesting the animals share the same habitat. This would make the woodpeckers vulnerable to predation, if the minks had this intent.

The team thinks the woodpeckers have adapted to feed on the forest floor, rather than holing up more cautiously in trees, because they historically have had no natural predators on the island. 

"They may have become naïve by not having been exposed to terrestrial carnivores," Jimenez told LiveScience. "It's very easy for a carnivore to pounce on a woodpecker and kill it."

The team believes this predation could result in a significant decline in the bird population on the island, which could result in other indirect ecological consequences, including a spike in insect populations that the birds would otherwise feed on. Other birds, including owls and parakeets, also use the Magellanic's vacated holes as breeding grounds, and may lose this important habitat if the woodpecker populations decline, Jimenez told LiveScience.

The team next plans to attach GPS units to the woodpeckers to better assess their distribution across the island and understand the ecological consequences of their potential decline, in an effort to develop management plans in response to the invasive mink population. 
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Chasing the elusive Magellanic Woodpecker

by University of North Texas
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Credit: Amy Wynia

University of North Texas Ph.D. candidate, Amy Wynia, traveled more than 6,000 miles to Navarino Island in southern-most Chile to explore the forests in search of the Magellanic Woodpecker (Campephilus magellanicus), the largest woodpecker in South America. While Wynia went to the ends of the earth to collect information for her Ph.D. dissertation, she also went because she really loves woodpeckers.
"The first time I actually held a woodpecker… that moment of me connecting with that bird in my hand and feeling those stiff tail feathers, it really stuck with me," said Wynia, a student and researcher in UNT's Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Conservation Program. "I've captured lots of birds in my time but the woodpecker was one bird that just really impressed me."
Less than 700 miles north of Antarctica, Wynia spent some of her days attempting to detect, capture and band the Campephilus magellanicus to study the bird population. She captured 52 woodpeckers in her time there but said it wasn't easy.
"We use large, special nets that are specifically designed to safely and humanely capture birds. But, these birds have very sharp bills and claws designed to rend and tear bark. And, as the birds and banding work is too delicate to wear gloves, I often went home bleeding," she said.
For nearly a year, Wynia's home was a three-floor field station with up to 23 other people. She lived with other researchers from around the world in a small room with two sets of bunkbeds and one bathroom per floor. She lived in the field station on three separate occasions totaling 11 months. Despite the tight quarters, Wynia said it really was the best place to study the woodpeckers.

[Image: 1-chasingtheel.jpg]
Credit: Amy Wynia

The Magellanic Woodpecker lives in families usually consisting of an adult male, female and their offspring. Young woodpeckers will spend up to four years in the family territory before going out, claiming their own territory and starting their own family. Unfortunately, the bird's population is dwindling, primarily due to habitat loss.
"My woodpeckers make their homes in old growth trees. They literally bore a hole in them to nest. But, those forests they call home are being replaced by cultivated farmland and plantations of non-native trees, such as pine and eucalyptus, to be used as lumber," Wynia said. "I captured and banded about 52 woodpeckers. I used different colored bands that denote capture year, familial group and individual ID, so I can see them from afar and not have to recapture the birds."
Wynia is using the data she collected to keep track of the woodpeckers' family groups, expansion and numbers. The Magellanic Woodpecker is not considered an endangered species globally, but it is listed as endangered and/or threatened in different regions of Chile. Its worldwide conservation status is currently listed as Least Concern, but its populations are decreasing. Wynia hopes to change that with her research, which is why she designed her experiment to determine the best detection technique to establish baseline population estimates with hopes of long-term monitoring to encourage listing of this keystone species.
"The Magellanic Woodpecker needs to get on the global conservation list because if nothing is done, before you know it, it will be gone like its larger relatives, the Imperial (C. imperialis) and Ivory-billed (C. principalis) Woodpeckers."

[Image: 2-chasingtheel.jpg]
Credit: Amy Wynia

Wynia worked closely on this project with her Ph. D. advisor, Jaime Jimenez of UNT's Advanced Environmental Research Institute. Jimenez travels frequently to Chile to conduct research and says that the university is very supportive of students in the field.
"When students are in the field, be it Chile or elsewhere, we work with them to do everything we can to ensure a successful study," said Jimenez. "In Amy's case, she and I sat down and discussed ideas, methods and techniques. I was able to help fund her work so that she could obtain the necessary supplies, room and board, vehicles and technicians. She has done great work in Chile and I hope other students will see her as an example of the opportunities and support available through our Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Conservation Program."
[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]

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