This species is classified as Vulnerable because although it has a very small population, which is severely fragmented and rapidly declining, the largest subpopulation in Zapata is too large for the species to qualify as Endangered.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.
30 cm. Medium-sized, long-billed and heavily barred woodpecker. Upperparts and wings brown-black barred yellowish, below yellowish barred brown-black, crown with cinnamon wash, ear-coverts yellower. Long, narrow and decurved bill. Male has black moustache, heavily mottled in female. Similar spp Cuban race of Northern Flicker C. auratus chrysocaulosus is more strikingly marked and more arboreal. Voice Variable, including a descending peah and a kind of Krrr, resembling that of the West Indian Woodpecker Melanerpes superciliaris. Often quiet. Hints Check areas of palms in open country and woodland edge. Often feeds on ground.
Distribution and population
Colaptes fernandinae was once widespread but never abundant on Cuba, and is now rare and localised; there are probably fewer than 900 individuals in total. It is currently known from Soroa, Mil Cumbres, Nortey, and Loma del Taburete in Pinar del Río province; the Zapata Swamp in Matanzas province (from at least twelve localities); Monte Ramonal, near Corralillo, El Dorado, and Isabela de Sagua in northern Villa Clara province; Aguada de Pasajeros and Rodas in Cienfuegos province; near Gibara (in the Campos de Veloso) and near Velazco (El Recreo), in Holguín province; Jobabo in Las Tunas province; Cienaga de Birama in Granma Province; and Sierra de Najasa (at La Belén and El Chorrillo) in Camagüey province (Mitchell 1998, A. Mitchell in litt. 1998, G. Kirwan in litt. 2005, A. Kirkconnell in litt. 2005). There are also recent records from eight localities in Santiago de Cuba province, where the most important locality is La Tabla (Mitchell et al. 2000, A. Kirkconnell in litt. 2005). The largest population persists in the Zapata Swamp, where total numbers were estimated at 300-400 pairs in 1998 (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998, A. Kirkconnell in litt. 1999), falling to 250-300 in 2007 (A. Mitchell in litt. 2007). Even within Zapata Swamp it continues to decline, for instance, in Bermeja in the early 90's there were between 60 to 80 pairs, in 2007 this had dropped to between 14 to 18 pairs (A. Mitchell in litt. 2007).
The population is estimated to number 600-800 individuals (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998, A. Kirkconnell in litt. 1999). This roughly equates to 400-530 mature individuals.
There are no new data on population trends, but on-going habitat loss is suspected to be causing a moderately rapid to rapid decline.
It breeds in palm-savannah, where it nests in dead and live palm trees, especially Palma cana (Mitchell and Wells 1997, J. A. Jackson in litt. 1999), and also inhabits pastures, swamps, forest edge and dense woodland (Winkler et al. 1995). Coiurtship takes place in late December and January, and nest excavation begins in February or March; breeding takes place in March-June (Winkler et al. 1995), and loose "colonies" have occasionally been found at Bermeja in the Zapata Swamp (Wells and Mitchell 1995, Mitchell 1998, A. Mitchell in litt. 1998, 2007). However, it is mostly solitary, and aggression between conspecifics is common (Wells and Mitchell 1995). There may be an association with palms used as a source of thatch, because fungus invades such trees making them more suitable for nesting (J. A. Jackson in litt. 1999).
Logging and clearance for agriculture are severe threats. Nest-trees are often shared with the Cuban Parrot Amazona leucocephala, and trappers frequently topple the trees to collect young parrots, causing both the loss of the woodpecker's brood and the permanent destruction of the nest-site (Mitchell and Wells 1997). Community members will often fell a tree containing a woodpecker nest hole just to check if there is a parrot present, or even fell trees with woodpecker nests when there are clearly no parrots present, presumably to eat the eggs or nestlings (A. Mitchell in litt. 2007). Hurricanes have a devastating impact on the dead palm trees, as evidenced at Bermeja after Hurricane Lilli in 1996 (Mitchell 1998, A. Mitchell in litt. 1998), and have recently hit the species's stronghold in Zapata, causing significant destruction (A. Mitchell in litt. 2005). West Indian Woodpeckers Melanerpes superciliaris have been observed to prey on the eggs and chicks (Wells and Mitchell 1995).
Conservation Actions Underway
The entire Zapata Swamp is a reserve, but there are no available resources to effectively police the area (Mitchell et al. 2000). Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue to monitor population trends. Monitor rates of habitat loss and degradation. Design and distribute posters in villages around the Zapata Swamp to raise awareness of the importance and vulnerability of this species and others such as A. leucocephala (Mitchell et al. 2000). Fit nest-boxes to live palms within and around present nesting areas (Mitchell et al. 2000). Consider controlling West Indian Woodpeckers at key sites to reduce competition for nest sites (A. Mitchell in litt. 2007).
Collar, N. J.; Gonzaga, L. P.; Krabbe, N.; MadroÃ±o Nieto, A.; Naranjo, L. G.; Parker, T. A.; Wege, D. C. 1992. Threatened birds of the Americas: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, U.K.
Mitchell, A. 1998. Red Data Bird: Fernandina's Flicker Colaptes fernandinae. World Birdwatch 20: 20-21.
Mitchell, A. D.; Kirkconnell, A.; Wells, L. J. 2000. Notes on the status and nesting ecology of Fernandina's Flicker Colaptes fernandinae. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 120: 103-112.
Mitchell, A.; Wells, L. 1997. The threatened birds of Cuba project report. Cotinga: 69-71.
Wells, L.; Mitchell, A. 1995. The threatened birds of Cuba project.
Winkler, H.; Christie, D. A.; Nurney, D. 1995. Woodpeckers: a guide to the woodpeckers, piculets and wrynecks of the world. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, U.K.
Further web sources of information
Detailed species account from the Threatened birds of the Americas: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 1992). Please note taxonomic treatment and IUCN Red List category may have changed since publication.
Detailed species account from the Threatened birds of the Americas: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 1992). Please note, taxonomic treatment and IUCN Red List category may have changed since publication.
Recuento detallado de la especie tomado del libro Aves Amenazadas de las Americas, Libro Rojo de BirdLife International (BirdLife International 1992). Nota: la taxonomoía y la categoría de la Lista Roja de la UICN pudo haber cambiado desde esta publicación.
Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Harding, M., Isherwood, I., Mahood, S., Sharpe, C J, Wege, D.
Jackson, J., Kirkconnell, A., Kirwan, G., Mitchell, A.
IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Colaptes fernandinae. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/08/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/08/2014.
This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.
To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife
To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.
Additional resources for this species
|Current IUCN Red List category||Vulnerable|
|Species name author||Vigors, 1827|
|Population size||400-530 mature individuals|
|Distribution size (breeding/resident)||7,300 km2|
|Links to further information|
|- Additional Information on this species|