‘Lanyu’ Scops-Owl Rusty Laughingthrush
More Birds in Taiwan
More Birds in TaiwanEurasian Teal
Dendrocopos leucotos insularis
The White-backed Woodpecker is a medium-sized (25 cm) black and white woodpecker. Males have a bright red cap, a white forehead, a white face and throat outlined by a narrow black malar and neck stripe, and a white breast finely streaked with black. Females are similar but with a black cap. The lower belly and undertail are reddish-pink. The mantle and most of the scapulars are glossy black, while the back and rump are white. The wings are spotted with white, and the outer tail feathers are white with 3 to 4 narrow black bars. The slate-gray bill is fairly long and chisel-tipped, the iris is reddish-brown and the legs are gray. The Taiwan race insularis is smaller than the mainland subspecies, has more white on the back and more extensive pink below.
The White-backed Woodpecker inhabits old-growth deciduous and mixed forests with a high proportion of dead and fallen trees. It specializes in feeding on large wood-boring insect larvae, and also eats other insects such as adult beetles, ants and their larvae. It also consumes some berries as well as nuts in the summer. Both sexes participate in excavating the nest cavity, a hole up to 20 m. in height in a dead tree. The female lays 3 to 5 eggs, and both sexes incubate the eggs and feed the chicks.
The call of the White-backed Woodpecker is a quiet “kik”, and its drumming is a long, moderately fast series accelerating but fainter at the end. In Taiwan the White-backed Woodpecker is an uncommon resident year-round in mature forests.
References: Handbook of Birds of the World Vol. 7; A Field Guide to the Birds of China (Mackinnon and Phillipps); N. J. Collar, “Endemic subspecies of Taiwan birds—first impressions”, in Birding ASIA, Number 2, December 2004; 100 Common Birds of Taiwan (Wild Bird Society of Taipei)