Sunday, November 8, 2009

Black-rumped Flameback

 A Black-rumped Flameback photographed in Colombo, Sri Lanka

More images of this woodpecker can be found at

Out of all the birds found in Sri Lanka, the Black-rumped Flameback is one of my favorites. It is also one of the most familiar birds found on the island. More details inside.

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The Black-rumped flameback (also known as the red backed woodpecker) is an unobtrusive bird which frequents residential areas. However, its call, which rises and then falls in pitch and accelerates, may give away its presence. The red back and the black and white head and neck are distinctive and can only be confused with the Greater Flameback. The Greater Flameback has an Ivory coloured beak and does not have the two white stripes around the eye. The Black-rumped Flameback has a black throat while the Greater Flameback's throat is white. The Black-rumped Flameback, like all other woodpeckers, has a stiff tail which it uses to support itself against tree trunks. It also has zygodactil feet with two toes pointed forward and two pointed backward. It is a large species measuring in at 26-29cm in length and uses its long tongue to feed on insects.

A pair of Black-rumped Flamebacks frequents our garden in the heart of Colombo. We've had regular visits from these birds for years. The image above was taken from a bed room window at home. I was able to spend around 40 minutes photographing these birds as they hopped along the branches foraging for food just 20 meters away from where I was.

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holdingmoments said...

What a stunning looking bird Dev.

Dev Wijewardane said...

Thanks Keith. It's pretty easy to see why it's one of my favorites huh?

vera said...

what a fantastic bird and snap too! :-))

Gallicissa said...

Now, that's a familiar bird, Dev!
It's one that I count in my bathroom bird list.

As you know, this species comes with a golden back in the Northern Sri Lanka, which is a different sub species to what we get in south. Interesingly, in some areas in between its northern range and southern range the two sub species overlap!

It's a pity that such a gorgeous birds is named "Black-rumped" after a feature that you cannot always see in field conditions.

Dev Wijewardane said...

Thanks for the comment Amila. I haven't actually seen the Golden backed subspecies yet!
I'm heading up to Anu, Trinco and Wasgamuwa fairly soon so hopefully I'll get lucky. Any suggestion/tips on where to see them??

Gallicissa said...

I've seen it in the parkland like areas near ruins and monuments, Wilpattu and Mannar. Good luck!

S.C.E. said...

Wow what a bird (and what a great name for a bird too)!

Dev Wijewardane said...

Thanks Amila, hopefully I'll get lucky!

Thanks for the comment Stuart, I like the "Flameback" part of it but, like Amila, I can't figure out why it was named "black-rumped" when the rump isn't as prominent.

Chris said...

Wow what a fantastic bird and what a shot you got... Incredibly beautiful. Well done!

Dev Wijewardane said...

Thanks for the comment Chris. I'm really happy with the way it turned out.

The Abbot said...

What a colourful beauty. Great photograph.

T and S said...

Truly amazing capture, I loved it. WOW.