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piculet

piculet (pĭkˈyələt) [key], common name for a small bird of the family Picidae, which includes the woodpecker and the wryneck. Like the true woodpeckers, piculets are large-headed and have long, sticky tongues, but they lack the stiff, balancing tail feathers of the larger woodpeckers. Hence, while they can climb vertically, they are often found perched on horizontal branches. Their short, rounded bills also lack the power to drill into living trees and are used instead to probe for insects and larvae in rotted logs. Gray or olive green above with black-marked, white underparts, piculets are found throughout the tropical forests of both the Old and New Worlds. A common species is the Antillean piculet, Nesoctites micromegas. Solitary and vagrant birds, piculets lay from two to eight glossy white eggs per clutch in unlined tree-hole nests. Both mates share in incubation and in the care of the young, which are blind and featherless. Piculets are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Piciformes, family Picidae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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