With their incredibly long, slightly barbed tongue, coated with a sticky substance, the African woodpecker can easily catch insects such as fig wasps and aphids to eat. It also uses its strong bill to hammer and probe open bark, to extract wood-boring insects and ants. In the winter, when insects are less common, it will also feed on the sap that oozes out from the tree (2) (3).
The African woodpecker is most often seen singly or in pairs, and generally breeds from March to May (2). With their sturdy bill they chisel out a nest-hole in live or dead wood; their unusually thick skull helps absorb the shock from these powerful strikes (3). A clutch of three eggs is laid in the nest and incubated by both the male and the female for 11 days. Both birds also share the responsibility of feeding the chicks. The young fledge after only 22 days, but remain in the nesting area for a further two months (2).