Saturday, July 27, 2013
Y is for YAFFLE
This bird is a member of the woodpecker family Picidae. There are four subspecies and it occurs in most parts of Europe and in western Asia. All have green upperparts, paler yellowish underparts, a red crown and moustachial stripe which has a red centre in males but is all black in females.
The Yaffle spends much of its time feeding on ants on the ground and does not often 'drum' on trees like other woodpecker species. It is a shy bird but usually draws attention with its loud calls. A nest hole is excavated in a tree; four to six eggs are laid which hatch after 19-20 days.
This hole is larger but similar to those of other woodpeckers. The eggs are incubated by both parents taking shifts of between 1.5 to 2.5 hours. The chicks are naked and altricial at hatching and fledge after 21-24 days.
Although this bird is shy and wary, it is usually its loud calls, known as "yaffling" which first draw atttention to its presence. It 'drums' rarely (a soft, fast roll) but often gives a noisy 'kyu-kyu-kyuck' while flying. The song is a loud series of 10-18 'klu' sounds which gets slightly faster towards the end and falls slightly in pitch. The female makes a thinner "pu-pu-pu-pu-pu-pu". The flight is undulating with 3-4 wingbeats followed by a short glide when the wings are held by the body.