Great Slaty Woodpecker bears a scientific name "Mulleripicus pulverulentus" found across the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia. A unique and basically unmistakable bird, it is the largest species of woodpecker that is certain to exist today. It is a fairly gregarious species.
Concentration of Great Slaty Woodpecker
Great Slaty Woodpecker is found in the Indian states and Southeast Asia, ranging across Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Structure of Great Slaty Woodpecker
Great Slaty Woodpecker prefers to inhabit areas of primary semi-open, moist deciduous and tropical evergreen forest though can on occasion range into adjacent secondary forests, clearings with scattered tall trees and similar almost park-like areas but do not generally visit heavily disturbed areas. Great Slaty Woodpecker prefers sprawling stands of dipterocarp and teak trees.
Nestling of Great Slaty Woodpecker
Great Slaty Woodpecker is also found in mature sal forests, swamp forest and mangroves with tall, mature trees. The species usually occurs below an elevation of 600 m, but also locally in montane areas of up to 1,100 m, occasionally ranging up to 2,000 m (6,600 ft).
Size of Great Slaty Woodpecker
Great Slaty Woodpecker is measuring at 48-58 cm long and a weight of 360-563 g (0.794-1.241 lb). Great Slaty Woodpecker stands as the largest woodpecker in the world. The wing chord of Great Slaty Woodpecker is 21.5 to 25 cm (8.5 to 9.8 in), the tail is 13.4 to 16.2 cm (5.3 to 6.4 in), the bill is 6 to 6.5 cm (2.4 to 2.6 in) and the tarsus is 3.6 to 4.1 cm (1.4 to 1.6 in).
Features of Great Slaty Woodpecker
Great Slaty Woodpecker has several obvious distinctive features like a very long, strong chisel-tipped bill, an elongated neck and a long tail. This species plumage is almost entirely dark grey or blackish slate-grey overlaid. The throat is paler grey and males have small red moustache. Normally, the nominate subspecies is the darkest, most slaty gray race. M. P. harterti has a more pale throat with a greater amount of whitish feather tips forming small spot and is slightly paler below than the nominate, sometimes appearing almost whitish on the belly. The size and structure readily distinguishes this bird from almost any other species, including other woodpeckers. Occasionally, at first glance, the great slaty woodpecker is mistaken for a hornbill but, obviously, such a resemblance is slight at best.
Voice of Great Slaty Woodpecker
Great Slaty Woodpecker has a weak, quiet voice, especially compared to other large woodpeckers, which tend to have loud, booming voices. The species call is a whinnying cackle of 2 to 5, usually 4 notes.
Behaviours of Great Slaty Woodpecker
Great Slaty Woodpeckers are mostly seen in groups consisting of 3 to 6 individuals, which consist of a breeding pair and their young from prior years. Groups often forage on shared feeding sites in the form of nests of social insects as ants, termites, wood-boring beetles and stingless bees. Ants seem to be generally favoured in the diet, though larvae of other species may be eaten quite regularly as well. Occasionally, small fruit may supplement the diet. Females spend more time searching for feeding sources and males, which have slightly larger bills, spend more time opening the sources. Preferred feeding sources are mostly found in large branches or trunks of large, living trees. The groups will travel considerable distance to access these trees and, as such, the home ranges of the species are quite large. Occasionally, though, they will feed at lower levels in trees and even amongst saplings. Usually, feeding groups of these woodpeckers do not linger in any given area for long. Sometimes this species associates with slightly smaller white-bellied woodpeckers and considerably smaller greater flamebacks, with the foraging methods of the very different woodpeckers minimizing competition between the species. Perhaps more considerable competition for food sources generally comes in the form of hornbills and arboreal (or tree-dwelling) mammals. The Great Slaty Woodpecker usually works a tree upwards and, though capable of swifter movements, has been described while foraging as if moving in "slow motion". It forages by gleaning, probing, pecking, prising off bark and hammering with powerful and loud blows to excavate the wood. Gleaning is the most important foraging method for the species, with the long neck and bill allowing it to reach out over a considerable distance into the crevices and cracks of trees. This species often flies high over the trees for long distances between successful foraging patches. In flight, its feather rustles noisily. The great slaty woodpecker usually engages in less dipping than other woodpeckers and flies in a mixed flying style described as quite crow-like.
Breeding of Great Slaty Woodpecker
The breeding pairs of Great Slaty Woodpecker roost in separate tree holes but regularly vocalized to stay in contact. The pair bond appears to be lifelong. Great Slaty Woodpecker engages in displays, largely for territorial purposes. Displays include head-swinging, where it appears to lag behind the body in swinging movements, whinnying calls and widen their wings and tail considerably.