• Wildlife Friendly Otley


We saw this large, colourful bird near the old railway line to the west of town. As well as a vibrant green you see a strong yellow and a flash of red. They don’t actually do as much wood-pecking as our other woodpeckers, preferring to eat ants and other bugs on the ground, using their very long tongues (10cm!). As with other woodpeckers, these are coiled up inside their skull when not in use. Their call is a remarkable laughing-like noise, which gives rise to their colloquial name of “Yaffle”. It is also incongruously loud for a shy bird. It used to be thought they had the ability to summon rain, resulting in their being called Rain Bird and Wet Bird, but I’m not sure what led to the alias Nicker Pecker. They can be monogamous for life, but live alone outside the breeding season.


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Masthead photography courtesy of Mark Denton

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