The Best Location to See White-rumped Woodpecker!

Some authors have split one of the sub-species of Buff-rumped Woodpecker that lives on Java into full species. It is White-rumped Woodpecker (Meiglyptes tristis).

Basically, at a glance, the two species are relatively the same in size, body shape, call, habits, habitat etc.

Based on the morphological difference in which White-rumped Woodpecker has dominantly black abdominal feathers, stony-white barring and spotting on all areas of plumage, white rump, dense black-and-white barring continuing around eyes and male have a slightly brighter red moustachial stripe than Buff-rumped Woodpecker males.

According to HBW and birdlife, this bird’s threat status is endangered. It is estimated that there are only around 1000 – 2499 individuals present and living in certain areas on the island of Java.

Besides that the habitat has been converted and fragmented, on this basis its status is endangered.

A recent survey conducted in several fragmented forests of West Java, found no existence of this bird. In fact, in October 2014 and October 2015 White-rumped Woodpecker was found in one of the national parks in East Java by Agung Sih Kurniawan, et al.

It is interesting to see the distribution map of this ‘black’ woodpecker in some field guides that look like those found only in West Java and a small part of Central Java.

In 2018, we tried to search in Meru Betiri NP, East Java where Agung met with this species.

Me and Heru Fitriadi tried to search for this endemic for 3 days.

We visited many locations such as grass land, the edge of forest, coconut, rubber; and teak plantations.

On the first two days, we failed to find it. Only managed to see Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker which is very abundant in Meru Betiri NP, especially in coconut plantations. Finally, we looked for rangers and local residents to ask for whereabouts and locations to see this.

Adult female White-rumped Woodpecker

Most of them thought what we were looking for was Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, but there was one local resident who was observant after we showed the difference between White-rumped Woodpecker and the other. He guided us to the last time he met.

On the last afternoon, with him looking for grass for his livestock, we waited in a shelter in the middle of the chinese albizia plantation on the edge of the river.

Every bird that alighted like a woodpecker we scoped straight for almost 1.5 hours.

Until 3:00 p.m. I turned on playback with a feeling of almost despair. Slowly from the back of the shelter there is a voice that is similar to the playback that I play. Initially I thought only the response sound was in the playback, suddenly two woodpeckers flew from behind the shelter to the front.

Suddenly my binoculars aimed at the target, quickly my binoculars lowered and changed to the camera while calling Heru Fitriadi who was looking at the riverbank. I pressed the camera shutter nonstop. This is the bird we were looking for for 3 days at Meru Bert NP, White-rumped Woodpecker.

Heru (left) and local guide sitting on the shelter

Complete, male and female seen together. Both of them respond to my playback sound. His voice is almost no different.

The striking black color on the chest and abdomen makes this bird very frightening.For 2 hours this bird circled around the shelter, until satisfied with observing and taking photos, then at 5.00 pm we decided to go home leaving Meru Betiri NP. So that is the best location in East Java, Indonesia to look at it. If you also want to see them, feel free to contact us.

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