Hoffman's Woodpecker

Hoffman's Woodpecker (Melanerpes hoffmannii). This woodpecker occurs from Southwest Nicaragua to Northern Costa Rica. We saw several of them over a two week period.

One of the characteristic markings of this species is that the nape (back of neck) is yellow. This male was busy hunting for bugs and was oblivious to my close presence.

Hoffman’s Woodpecker (David Zittin, Costa Rica 2018)

Hoffman’s Woodpecker (David Zittin, Costa Rica 2018)

Hoffman’s Woodpecker (David Zittin, Costa Rica 2018)

Motmot Sketches

Since motmots sit still and Dave can take his time photographing, I also have time to do some quick sketches. Here are a couple pages from Costa Rica.

Incidentally, one thing I love about Motmots is that they say their name, ‘Mot Mot’ in a low spooky voice.


Woodpeckers are well known for their drumming, the noise they emit when hammering a tree with their beaks. Drumming serves to attract a mate and to mark territory.

Most woodpeckers gather food by hammering at bark to find insects, but are also opportunistic and they will eat fruit, small reptiles, etc. Most woodpeckers are solitary, but a few like the Acorn Woodpecker form small social groups and collect acorns for food and place these in holes they create in trees.

Many woodpeckers excavate a nests in trees to rear their young. Old nests are important nesting space for other, non-woodpecker species.

Sapsuckers are a type of woodpecker that drill many holes in trees called “wells”. The sap that exudes from these wells is consumed by the sapsucker and often it is an attractant to insects which are also consumed by this group of woodpeckers.

Acorn Woodpecker (David Zittin, Portal, Arizona June 2016). The Acorn Woodpecker is a social bird and form small groups of a dozen or less birds. They excavate holes in trees and pound an acorn into each hole for future consumption. Sometimes trees will contains thousands of holes. These hole grouping are called granaries.

Acorn Wooedpecker (David Zittin, Rancho San Antonio, CA)

Acorn Wooedpecker (David Zittin, Rancho San Antonio, CA)

Red-naped Sapsucker (David Zittin, Santa Clara County, California, 2017).

Red-naped Sapsucker (David Zittin, Santa Clara County, California, 2017). The Red-naped Sapsucker is rare in this county.

The Pale-billed Woodpecker (David Zittin, Costa Rica 2018). This woodpecker is found in Mexico and Central America. The narrow black line on the forehead indicates that this is a female of the species.


Motmot sketch - Costa RIca

Motmots are one of my favorite birds. I guess they rank high with me because they tend to sit still and they are beautiful. This makes them good photo subjects.

Motmots are found in the forests of the Neotropics. Motmots are patient, sit and wait predators, roosting quietly, waiting to ponce on an insect or a small lizard that wanders into the reach of a waiting motmot.

Most motmots have “paddles” at the end of their tails. These paddles are called rackets. Rackets are formed because the feather barbs above the rackets are weakly attached and fall out. It used to be thought that the bird removed these barbs, but this has since been proven incorrect.

Rufous Motmot (David Zittin, Costa Rica 2018)

Broad-billed Motmot (David Zittin, Costa Rica 2018)

Tody Motmot (Dave Zittin, Guatemala 2017) This species lives deep in the vine tangle and is difficult to photograph. Note that this motmot does not have tail rackets

Lesson’s Motmot (David Zittin, Guatemala 2017)