Whilst birding the An Namas area of the Asir mountains, 150 kms north of Abha recently I photographed a pair of Arabian Woodpecker Dendrocopos doraeat at their nest hole. The hole was positioned in the trunk or major branch of a large tree about five metres above ground level and comprised of a small freshly drilled hole.
The nest was active with both birds of the pair continually bringing food to young hidden in the hole. An interesting interaction occurred with a Violet-backed Starling when I was there with the Starling, that are known to displace woodpeckers from their nest holes and take them over to nest themselves.
The starling moved closer and closer to the hole and when within close range was driven from the tree by the male woodpecker. The starling then came back a second time but was drive off this time by the female woodpecker. The Arabian Woodpecker is an uncommon but widespread resident of the south-west highlands, where birds are usually associated with acacia trees but can be found in a variety of wooded habitats.
It is classified as near threatened on the IUCN Red List 2018 as it has a population estimate of >10,000 mature individuals, however, the population is still considered to be relatively small and is decline owing to cutting and lopping of trees for charcoal, firewood and fodder, in parts of its range.