OKINAWA WOODPECKER } Sapheopipo noguchii
FAMILY: Picidae

DESCRIPTION: This woodpecker is a dark-brown bird with red-tipped feathers and white spots on its wings, approximately 10 inches tall.

HABITAT: The species lives in the undisturbed subtropical, evergreen broadleaved forests of Yanbaru. Breeding habitat is mature forest at least 30 years old, with tall trees of more than eight inches in diameter.

RANGE: The Okinawa woodpecker lives only in Yanbaru, a small area of forested woodlands in the northern mountainous region of the island of Okinawa, Japan.

MIGRATION: This species does not migrate.

BREEDING: Nesting is between late February and May, often in hollow Castanopsis cuspidata trees.

LIFE CYCLE: The Okinawa woodpecker's life cycle is unknown.

FEEDING: This woodpecker feeds on large arthropods such as beetle larvae, spiders, moths, and centipedes, as well as fruit, berries, seeds, acorns, and other nuts.

THREATS: The Okinawa woodpecker is threatened by ongoing destruction of forest habitat in Okinawa's northern jungles. A significant amount of prime remaining habitat is threatened by a joint U.S. and Japanese military proposal to construct additional helicopter training landing areas in Yanbaru, including roads and infrastructure. The woodpecker is also threatened by road construction, clear-cutting, agriculture, and construction. Its limited range and tiny population make it vulnerable to extinction from disease and natural disasters such as typhoons.

POPULATION TREND: Only a single, small declining population remains; the breeding population was estimated at 75 birds in the early 1990s, with a total population of only 100 to 500 woodpeckers.

Photo by C.T. Hanashiro