Guide to some birds of the Okhotsk region

EurasianJay StellarsSeeagle Redpoll BlakistonsFishowl LathamsSnipe JapaneseCrane Skylark LongtailedTit JuvenileSwan
Whooper Swan White-tailed Sea-Eagle Stellar's Sea-Eagle Hazel Grouse
Japanese Crane Far Eastern Curlew Latham's Snipe Ross's Gull
Blakiston's Fish-Owl Ural Owl Black Woodpecker Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Eurasian Skylark Long-tailed Tit Snow Bunting Common Redpoll
Tree Sparrow Eurasian Jay Northern Raven Buller's Shearwater*
Swan Goose* Ashy Minivet* To Checklist To Bird Guide Top

Black Woodpecker   Drycopus martius   Kuma-gera

The Black Woodpecker is the largest species of this family in Japan, and it is almost completely black. The top of the male's head is red over a wide area from the forehead to the back of the head, and the female has a red section only at the back of the head. Since this distinction also applies to juveniles, it is possible to identify their sexes already from this stage of life. Juveniles can be identified by their black irises which turn white when they reach adulthood.

Their large, blackbodies may possibly cause people to mistake them for crows, but the fact that they rest vertically on the trunks of trees, they have the red patch on their heads, their bills are whitish, and they fly in up-and-down wave motions make them quite distinct from crows. They also have a distinctive high-pitched "Kyohn-kyohn" call, and while flying might call "Korokorokoro..." or "Kerekerekere...".

During the summer, Black Woodpeckers live in forests with large trees deep in the mountains, while in winter they come down to trees that from windbreaks near the coast or even go into towns.


Adult male.
(Shikaribetsu Lake, 28 October 2001,
Photo: Yoko-san)


Adult male. The Black Woodpecker leaves long and narrow vertical holes when it feeds. These rather large holes are relatively easy to recognize. Black Woodpeckers sometimes leave feeding traces at unexpected places.
(Shikaribetsu Lake, 28 October 2001,
Photo: Yoko-san)



Adult male. When a woodpecker of any type holds its tail vertically against the tree, it is to firmly support its body.
(Hokkaido, Mid-April 2003,
Photo: Midorin-san)