Brown Anole Predation by Red-bellied Woodpeckers in Florida

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While visiting relatives last week in Fort Myers (FL), anole enthusiast and avid wildlife photographer Kyle Wullschleger noticed a commotion among the trees while on an afternoon hike in a small neighbourhood nature preserve. On closer inspection he witnessed a group of red-bellied woodpeckers (Melanerpes carolinus) foraging on surrounding cypress trees, with a couple eventually appearing with their apparent target–non-native Cuban brown anoles (A. sagrei). He recalls some of the details:

“The photos from the sequence aren’t all that fantastic because I cropped in so it really just shows the behavior. The whole sequence the woodpecker was basically just slamming the anole against the tree and then trying to pick it apart – it was hard to tell what exactly it was doing, but I believe it eventually swallowed it whole before flying away–it hopped behind the tree so I couldn’t see it anymore.”

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“There were at least five birds all moving up and down the lower third of the cypress trees just around the boardwalk I was on. They were moving around the trees without really knocking the wood, so maybe they were purposefully targeting anoles? I only saw successful predation twice, but the brush is so thick–it’s obviously happening quite a bit.”

Sean Giery had previously discussed the main avian predators of anoles in urban South Florida, but woodpeckers didn’t make the list. Woodpeckers do occur in urban areas of South Florida; a new one to add to the list?

One thought on “Brown Anole Predation by Red-bellied Woodpeckers in Florida

  1. Red-bellied Woodpeckers seem to be behavioral innovators. At my home near Tallahassee I have several feijoa (Acca sellowiana) shrubs that are visited every May by red-bellies which forage on the flower petals. They even carry them away (to nestlings?). The petals are thick and sweet-tasting. Feijoas are believed to be bird-pollinated in their native range in southern Brazil(http://www.actahort.org/books/452/452_5.htm).
    My red-bellies discovered the resource the second year that the feijoas flowered, and they are the only birds that I routinely see eating the petals.

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