Woodpeckers position themselves vertically on tree trunks and tap with their beaks. That is after all, how they gets their name! Did you know that they do so to find insects living in the crevices in the wood or to dig to make nest cavities. Some species also tap on trees to communicate as part of their courtship behaviour.
Photo: Baiju Patil.
There are many different kinds of woodpeckers found all over the world, except in Australia, Madagascar and New Zealand. Some say there are over 180 species of woodpeckers around our planet and they are all grouped in the family Picidae. Woodpeckers have strong, pointed beaks that they use to tap as much as 8,000 to 12,000 times a day. Luckily, nature has given them tightly cushioned and well-protected brains to withstand the impact of all that wood-banging. Their nostrils are covered with bristle-like feathers so as to prevent inhalation of wood particles. They also have long, sticky tongues that are perfect for picking up insects. While most other birds have one toe pointing back and three pointing forwards, woodpeckers have four sharply, clawed toes – two facing forward and two facing back – which is perfect to grasp the sides of the trunk. Woodpeckers eat bugs, sap, fruit, nuts and seeds. One of the largest woodpecker species – the Ivory-billed Woodpecker was thought to be extinct but was rediscovered in 2005. The piculets are the smallest woodpecker species and are found in South America.
Author: Sanctuary Asia, First appeared in: Sanctuary Cub January, 2014.