Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

The remarkable feeding behaviour demonstrated by the woodpecker finch involves the use of twigs and cactus spines to push, stab or lever insects and spiders from tree-holes and crevices (3). Displaying extraordinary behavioural adaptability, this species will not only seek out a variety of different feeding implements, but will also manipulate them to make them more manageable, for example by shortening cactus spines with its bill (7). Although the woodpecker finch's use of tools enables it to access inaccessible sources of food, particularly those with the high energy content such as spider egg sacs, it incurs a significant cost by being a relatively time consuming foraging technique. Therefore, it is a behaviour most commonly exhibited by woodpecker finches in the arid zone during the dry season, when easily accessible food supplies are scarce. In contrast, during the Arid Zone wet season, and throughout the year in the Scalesia Zone, invertebrate prey are generally abundant and easily accessible, hence the woodpecker finch is more reliant on its specialised, pointed bill to probe amongst moss and bark for prey, and rarely uses tools (3). Darwin's finches usually breed during the hot, wet season when food is most abundant. Monogamous, lifelong breeding pairs are common, although mate changes and breeding with more than one partner have also been observed. Breeding pairs maintain small territories, in which they construct a small dome-shaped nest with an entrance hole in the side. Generally a clutch of three eggs is laid, which are incubated by the female for about twelve days, and the young brooded for a further two weeks before leaving the nest. The short-eared owl (Asio flammeus), frequently preys on the nestlings and juvenile Darwin's finches, while adults are occasionally taken by Galapagos hawks (Buteo galapagoensis) and lava herons (Butorides sundevalli) (2).
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Description

Perhaps the most famous of Darwin's finches, the woodpecker finch has attracted popular and scientific attention for its remarkable usage of tools to assist feeding (2) (3). Like the other Darwin's finches, this species has evolved a specialised beak form, enabling it to exploit a particular habitat and diet (2). In the case of the woodpecker finch, its beak is long and pointed, allowing it to probe deeply into cavities in search of food (4). Adults and juveniles both have dull, uniform, light greyish-olive plumage (5), with the only distinguishing feature being beak colouration, which changes from pink to black as this species matures (3).
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Distribution

Range Description

This species is found only on the Galpagos Islands (Ecuador). It is found on the islands of Fernandina, Isabela, Santiago, Pinzn, Santa Cruz, and San Cristbal. Its status on Fernandina andPinzn is uncertain(P. Grant in litt. 2013).
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Range

The woodpecker finch is endemic to the Galapagos Archipelago, where it occupies the islands of Isabela, Fernandina, Santiago, Pinzón, Santa Cruz, and San Cristóbal (6).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
The species uses a variety of habitats and elevations, especially montane evergreen forest (Jaramillo and Christie 2013). It is common in Scalesia evergreen forest (dominated by treelike Scalesia pedunculata) and the Cinchona zone (dominated by Cinchona pubescens) on Santa Cruz (Dvorak et al. 2012). It feeds on arthropods, including wood-boring beetle larvae (Jaramillo and Christie 2013). Ecologically fills the role of a woodpecker or nuthatch and uses tools, such as sticks, to extract larvae from timber.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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The woodpecker finch is mostly found in the Scalesia Zone, a lush, humid evergreen forest dominated by the daisy tree (Scalesia pedunculata), which is found between elevations of 300 and 700 metres. This species also occurs in the lowland Arid Zone, which is dominated by deciduous trees, shrubs and cacti, but is much rarer in this habitat (3).
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
A2bc+3bc+4bc; B1ab(v)

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2015

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Symes, A.

Contributor/s
Grant , P. & Cisneros-Heredia, D.F.

Justification
This species is thought to have declined by more than 30% over the past three generations and this decline is projected to continue into the future. It also has a small range and is found at a limited number of locations. It is therefore evaluated as Vulnerable.

History
  • 2012
    Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
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