Geocolaptes olivaceus (Gmelin, 1788)
Systema Naturae 1 pt1 p.431
The Ground Woodpecker, Geocolaptes olivaceus, is one of only three ground-dwelling woodpeckers in the world. It inhabits rather barren, steep, boulder-strewn slopes in relatively cool hilly and mountainous areas of South Africa, and has yet to be recorded outside of Southern Africa. It is the largest woodpecker in the region, reaching 30cm in length. It usually goes about in pairs or small parties and is best located by its loud, raucous 2-note call (chik-ree, chik-ree) with head-swinging. It often peers over or around rocks at intruders. It breeds in spring and early summer (August to November), and the nest is in a tunnel excavated by the bird itself in the vertical bank of a stream or watercourse.
It is to be found in a broad swath running from south-west to north-east, from the Cape Peninsula and Namaqualand to the Transvaal. Its diet consists mainly of ants with their larvae, pupae and eggs. These are extracted from dead wood or between rocks, using its long, sticky tongue. Usually 3 glossy white eggs are laid in a chamber at the end of the tunnel.
* Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 6th edition (John Voelcker Fund, 1993) ISBN 0 620 17583 4
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