クマゲラ

ご存知の通り、黒い身体に頭の赤がかっこいいキツツキの一種。

日本では、北海道と秋田県・青森県などの東北のごく一部での生息も確認されていますが、森林伐採などによる生息地の減少によりその姿もなかなか見られないようになってきているのが現実です。

赤い後頭部が印象的ですが、オスとメスではその面積に違いがあります。
メスの場合は後頭部のみですが、オスの場合は額から後頭部にかけて赤色がはっきりと見えますので、もし遠くから見かける様なことがあったら、そこで見分けがつきます。
体長は、45〜57センチ程度で、日本に生息しているキツツキの仲間の中では最大で、名前にある“クマ”はクマゼミ同様“特大の”という意味。
また、クマゲラは、他のキツツキが丸い巣穴を開けるのに対して、楕円形の船の様な形の巣穴を彫る事からアイヌ語ではチップタッチカムイ(=船を彫る神)と呼ばれ、熊の居場所を教えてくれたり、道案内してくれると言い伝えられているのだとか。
動物学的な話をすると、木を突いているのは、エサであるアリを探したり、求愛の合図だったり、威嚇や縄張りの宣言などになっているそうです。

クマゲラは、緑の深い森林に生息し、その中で幹が平で滑らかな樹木を好んで地上4〜10メートル辺りに巣を掘って生活します。
5月下旬頃に3個前後の卵を産むと、オス・メス交代で卵を温めますが夜はオスがメインで卵のお守りをし、1ヶ月後にはヒナが誕生し、更にその1ヶ月後頃から巣立ちがはじまります。
クマゲラのオスは“イクメン”のようで、卵からかえった雛のお世話も殆どオスが行ない、巣立ちを促したり、見事巣から飛び出せるようになった後も、暫くはオスがエサを与えたりします。
そうして、雛鳥が完全に巣立てば、その年の10月には、もう家族としてのまとまりはなくなってしまうそうです。
(その間メスは一体何をしているのか非常に気になるのですが、調べても見つからなかったので、どなたかご存知でしたら教えて下さい。)
ただ、親鳥は子どもたちが巣立った後も、同じ巣穴に暫く住み続け、その期間は年単位になる事もあるそうですので、一度巣穴を見つけたらクマゲラの邪魔にならないように観察し続ける事も可能です。

ただ、クマゲラの数が減少しているのは、住処の減少だけではなく、そうした写真撮影目的の人々が押し寄せてしまい、クマゲラの縄張りが荒らされていることも原因のひとつなのです。
貴重な生き物の写真を撮りたい気持ちも分かりますが、森林は人間のルールだけがあるわけではない事をしっかり肝に銘じたいものです。

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