Galapagos Species Checklist

Camarhynchus pallidus Sclater & Salvin, 1870

Pinzón carpintero, artesano, Woodpecker Finch

Woodpecker Finch in Santa Cruz, Galapagos. Photo: Michael Dvorak, CDF.
Woodpecker Finch in Santa Cruz, Galapagos. Photo: Michael Dvorak, CDF.

Black during reproduction, olive-light brown colour outside the breeding season and pinkish when young. Males and females look alike, with upper parts olive to warm brown with little streaking and underparts creamy to yellowish with slight streaking on upper breast. Males in San Cristóbal can get a black hood – blackish plumage was observed in approximately a fifth of the San Cristóbal population.

Threats Like other finches, current threats are mainly from diseases and parasites. Is known to be affected by the parasitic fly Philornis downsi that causes heavy chick mortality. Highland birds that contracted pox in captivity, were heavily affected by this disease.

Taxonomy

Domain
Eukaryota

Kingdom
Animalia

Phylum
Chordata

Class
Aves

Order
Passeriformes

Family
Thraupidae

Genus
Camarhynchus

Species
pallidus

Taxon category: Accepted

Syn.: Cactornis pallida Sclater & Salvin, 1870; Cactospiza pallida; Camarhynchus pallidus pallidus (Sclater & Salvin, 1870); Camarhynchus pallidus productus Ridgway, 1894; Camarhynchus pallidus striatipecta (Swarth, 1931)

Status

Vulnerable

Ecology

Preference for an altitude zone in Galapagos: Coastal zone - high altitude dry zone

Habitat preferences: Most common in highlands but found all the way down to the coast in forested areas.

Feeding type: Insectivorous

This is the famous tool-using finch of Galápagos able to use a cactus spine or a twig to get larvae from holes in wood. Uses this technique mainly during the dry season in the dry zone. Young birds can learn this behaviour, but adults cannot.

Feeding preferences: Feeds on insects and larvae gathered from the moss on trees as well as from under the bark on branches and trunks. Quite flexible in habits, can change foraging techniques between the wet and dry season, searching more in moss in the dry season.

Trophic role: Carnivorous

Reproduction mode: Exclusively sexual

Reproductive biology: Breeds during the rainy season (December to April), possibly start breeding a few weeks earlier than other finches. Male displays in front of a dome shape nest. Once chosen, the pair either use this nest or build a new one. Only females incubate (one to three eggs), both feed the chicks. Fledglings stay for up to 6 weeks with a parent, either with the male while the female starts a new clutch, or, one with the female and the other with the male.

Distribution

Distribution: Breeds on Isabela, Fernandina (probably), Santa Cruz, Santiago, San Cristóbal, and Pinzón (rarely). It has also been recorded on Rábida (specimens 1897 and 1905), Floreana (specimen 1905) and Santa Fe (two sight records 1968), and a sight record on Pinta in 1968.

References

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  • Salvin, O. (1876) On the avifauna of the Galápagos Archipelago. Transactions of the Zoological Society of London 9: 447-510.
  • Fessl, B. Tebbich, S. (2002) Philornis downsi - a recently discovered parasite on the Galápagos archipelago - a threat to Darwin's finches? Ibis 144: 445-451.
  • Swarth, H.S. (1931) The Avifauna of the Galapagos Islands. Occ. Pap. Calif. Acad. Sci. 18: 1-299.
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  • Fessl, B. Couri, M.S. & Tebbich, S. (2001) Philornis downsi Dodge & Aitken, new to the Galapagos Islands (Diptera, Muscidae). Studia Dipterologic 8: 317-322.
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  • Tebbich, S. Taborsky, M., Fessl, B. & Dvorak, M. (2002) The ecology of tool-use in the woodpecker finch (Cactospiza pallida). Ecology Letters 5:656-664.
  • Tebbich, S. Taborsky, M., Fessl, B., Dvorak, M. & Winkler, H. (2004) Feeding behavior of four arboreal Darwin's finches: adaptations to spatial and seasonal variability. The Condor 106:95-105
  • Tebbich, S. Teschke, I. (2014) Coping with Uncertainty: Woodpecker Finches (Cactospiza pallida) from an Unpredictable Habitat Are More Flexible than Birds from a Stable Habitat. PLOS One 9:e91718
  • Farrington, H. Lawson, L., Clark, C. & Petren, K. (2014) The evolutionary history of Darwin's finches: speciation, gene flow, and introgression in a fragmented landscape. Evolution doi 10.1111/evo.12484.
  • IUCN (2015) The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 20 November 2015.
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  • Remsen, J.V. Areta, J.I.Jr., Cadena, C.D., Claramunt, S., Jaramillo, A., Pacheco, J.F., Pérez-Emán, J., Robbins, M.B., Stiles, F.G., Stotz, D.F., Zimmer, K. J. (2016) A Classification of the Bird Species of South America. South American Classification Committee. American Ornithologists' Union http://www.museum.lsu.edu/~Remsen/SACCBaseline.htm
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The “Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands”, in French “Fondation Charles Darwin pour les îles Galapagos”, Association International sans but lucratif (“AISBL”), has its registered office located at Chaussée de la Hulpe 177 Bte 20 (rez) - 1170, Brussels, and is registered under the trade registry of Brussels under the number 0409.359.103.

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