Notebooks from a trampfest. Travel tips, tales and images, online since 2006.

Chasing a Redhead in the Forest: Up Close With a Magellanic Woodpecker

Some bonding time with the largest woodpecker in the Americas.

I finally got around to reworking these few shots of a few Magellanic Woodpeckers I spent a few minutes chasing at the edge of a forest after catching them in the act of drumming and pecking in Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park near El Chalten. They’re loud and they’re big.

At 36 to 45 centimeters (14 to 18 inches) long,Magellanic Woodpeckers, or Campephilus magellanicus is the largest woodpecker in South America, one of the largest in the Americas, and found only in Patagonian forests of southern Argentina and Chile. The male, at top, has a head of fiery red with a short crest, sort of like a short raging mohawk. The female, pictured a few shots down, has a black head with a curly crest and a red patch at the base of its beak.  They’re great climbers, thanks to their curved claws and rigid feathers in their tails. The distinctive white patterns on their back is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in the wild.

I was thrilled to come across them twice on this particular hike, a day trip on the Fitz Roy Trail, both on the ascent and descent to and from Laguna Capri and Poincenot near the base of Fitz Roy, arguably the most recognized peak in the Andes. They’re not shy, allowing you to get fairly close. It was playful too, allowing me just enough time to nearly catch up before soaring to the next dry tree.

From a technical standpoint, I’m not terribly thrilled with most of the shots –most here are cropped fairly close. It was getting late and much of the light was gone for the shot of the male, while my setting were way off when I hurried to get a snap of the female. It’s unlikely that I’ll ever come across these beautiful beasts again, so I decided to pad out this mini gallery.

Chasing redheads in the forest - encounters with a Magellanic Woodpecker in Patagonia from Piran Cafe
When was the last time you pinned a Magellanic Woodpecker? So, what are you waiting for? Pin this post now!

Still Magellanic woodpecker-curious? Some related links for future reference or further exploration:

Seven more shots of this wonderful creature below. Enjoy!

 

Magellanic Woodpecker, near El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina
Male Magellanic Woodpecker

 

Magellanic Woodpecker, near El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina
Black head, larger crest – female Magellanic Woodpecker

 

Magellanic Woodpecker, near El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina

 

Magellanic Woodpecker, near El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina

 

Magellanic Woodpecker, near El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina

 

Magellanic Woodpecker, near El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina Magellanic Woodpecker, near El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina

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7 Comments
  1. paula graham says

    Stunning bird, well photographed. What a red-head.

  2. Mick Canning says

    Whatever your reservations, Bob, the shots look good to me!

  3. Taj mahal tour by train says

    Wonderful photography of bird. Amazing shots. Thanks!

  4. Brad Nixon says

    Thank you. Previously unknown to me. I once saw a pileated woodpecker, back in southern Ohio, and that was a treat.

    1. Bob R says

      Those are stunning! Where in southern Ohio? I lived in Athens County, southeast Ohio, for the better part of a dozen years.

      1. Brad Nixon says

        Warren County, my home town, Lebanon (all 42 years prior to LA). It was in a wooded creek area.

      2. Brad Nixon says

        I would’ve considered it more likely to have seen one down in Athens County. I’ve loved all the hiking I’ve done down in the lovely southern-southeastern part of the state.

Thoughts?

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