The Greater Flameback Woodpecker, Phetchaburi, Thailand in High Definition

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The Greater Flameback (Chrysocolaptes guttacristatus ) also known as Greater Goldenback, Large Golden-backed Woodpecker or Malherbe's Golden-backed Woodpecker, is a woodpecker species. It occurs widely in the Indian subcontinent, eastwards to southern China, the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, western and central Java and northeast Greater Flameback is a large woodpecker, at 33 cm in length. It is of typical woodpecker shape, has an erect crest and a long neck. Coloration is highly variable between subspecies; it always has unmarked golden-yellow to dark brown back and wings. The rump is red and the tail is black. The underparts are white with dark markings (chevrons, stripes, or bands), or light brown. The head is whitish with a black pattern, or it is yellow, brown or red. The straight pointed bill is long (longer than the head) and -- like the legs and four-toed zygodactyl feet (two toes pointing forward, two backward) -- lead-grey. The eyes' irides are whitish to adult male Greater Flameback always has a red crown. Females have a crown color varying between subspecies, such as black spotted with white, yellow, or brown with lighter dots. Young birds are like the female, but duller, with brown pattern of Western Ghats Greater Flameback (C. l. socialis). The thin and divided black "moustache" can be used to distinguish it from similar Dinopium Greater Flameback subspecies resemble some of the three-toed Dinopium flamebacks, but are not particularly closely related. Unlike the Black-rumped Flameback (D. benghalense) and the Common Flameback (D. javanense), the Greater Flameback's dark moustache stripes are divided by white (making them inconspicuous at a distance); except in stricklandi, their hindneck is white (not black), and even in the Sri Lankan birds the dark colour does not extend to between the shoulders as it does in Dinopium; consequently, when seen from behind the black-and-white-headed Greater Flamebacks outside Sri Lanka show a white neck bordered with black on the sides, while the Dinopium species have a black neck and upper back, with thin white borders to the neck. Those flamebacks are also smaller (though this is only reliable in direct comparison), have a bill that is shorter than the head, and dark evolution in plumage between a larger and a smaller species is also found among other woodpeckers, such as the North American Downy Woodpecker ("Picoides" pubescens) and Hairy Woodpecker ("P." villosus), the tropical American Smoky-brown Woodpecker ("P." fumigatus) and certain Veniliornis species, or the Striped Woodpecker (V. lignarius) and Checkered Woodpecker (V. mixtus) and some South American Piculus and "Picoides". In all of these cases, these birds are neither gregarious nor known to be bad-tasting, and due to their size difference and habitat preferences do not compete much; hence the usual reasons for mimicry do not seem to apply. While the similar plumage may be due to sheer chance -- perhaps as an atavism of plesiomorphic patterns -- the facts that such cases are commonplace in the Picinae and that the species involved are usually sympatric suggests that there may well be some as yet undiscovered benefit to either or all of the taxa Credit: Author JJ Harrison (jjharrison89@)License: CC BY-SA

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