Birds of Indian Subcontinent

Sexual dimorphism in relation to winter foraging in the white-backed woodpecker ( Dendrocopos leucotos )

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2004
Authors:Stenberg, I, Hogstad, O
Journal:Journal of Ornithology
Date Published:2004
ISBN Number:2193-7192
Keywords:Dendrocopos, Dendrocopos leucotos, Norway, Picidae, Picoides leucotos
Abstract:Male white-backed woodpeckers ( Dendrocopos leucotos ) in a 250-km 2 study area in western Norway are significantly larger than females in bill length and depth, wing and tarsus lengths, and bodyweight. During the winters (October–March 1985–2002), most pairs were observed within their breeding territory where both sexes foraged mainly in grey alder and birch trees, and visited trees of the same tree height and stem width. However, males foraged more frequently on dead trees and on trees broken by storms. Males also used more trees with less bark cover, foraged nearer the ground and used foraging sites of larger diameter. Furthermore, males practised more deep wood-pecking and less bark-pecking than females. Unlike in other sexually dimorphic woodpecker species, the foraging niche breadth in wintering white-backed woodpeckers showed only minor sexual differences, and the sexes overlapped significantly in all parameters examined. Since previous studies in the area have shown that the sexes overlap considerably in use of their territory, it was expected, as found in other size dimorphic woodpeckers, that the larger male would displace the supposedly socially subordinate female to suboptimal feeding sites. In our area, the sexes were rarely seen together, and no sign of aggression between the sexes was observed. Despite the sex-specific differences found in the foraging behaviour of the birds, it is not obvious how the differences should be related to size dimorphism.
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith