Olive Woodpecker Takes Up Residence in My Garden

Olive Woodpeckers are a familiar sight here on the Garden Route, a welcome change from my first encounter way back in the Wilge Rivier Valley near Bronkhorstpruit. That sighting was so unusual it caused quite a stir, with birders flocking to Amanzimthaba lodge to add it to their Gauteng list.

Here in the Garden Route, though, Olive Woodpeckers are everyday visitors to my garden. This morning, while pottering around, I noticed something exciting – the sisal log I attached to a tree last year had finally attracted its intended residents!

A male woodpecker was scrambling excitedly up and down the log, pecking away at a spot to create the entrance for their nest. The area around the small hole was scratched and scuffed, suggesting they’d been considering this location for a while.

Luckily, my camera was within reach, and I managed to set it up for a close-up video of the male diligently working on his new project. The female, meanwhile, seemed more focused on finding a tasty snack – larvae of wood-boring beetles and other insects – in a nearby bush.

While it’s a little early for nesting (egg-laying usually happens between August and November), the size of the hole and their determined behavior leave little doubt about their intentions.

Here’s hoping the Olive Woodpeckers stick to their chosen spot. With a bit of luck, we might be treated to the sight of a few fluffy chicks later in the season!

Ben Fouche
Birding on the Garden Route, South Africa

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