Woodpecker Facts

Did you know these woodpecker facts?

Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker

  • Most woodpeckers have four toes.  Two face forward and two face backward.  This arrangement is called zygodactyl.

  • Their short legs and sharp nails make it easier for them to cling to bark.

  • A pair of stiff, centrally located tail feathers allow the bird to "tripod" itself on trees.  This facilitates a solid "platform" from which the woodpecker can strike the tree with its beak.  These important feathers are not molted until their replacements have fully grown in.

  • A straight, chisel-like bill is used to excavate holes in trees for nesting and roosting.  It is also used for foraging insects, insect eggs and larva.

  • Bristle-like feathers over their nostrils help to keep wood particles from being inhaled.

  • Very long tongues allow the birds to "worm" their way in to hard to reach places.  There are hard, saliva coated bristles on the end of the tongue.  These aid in grabbing the prey.  The tongue can also be used for lapping sap.

  • Some woodpeckers gather acorns, pine nuts and fruit.  Some gather bugs from tree surfaces.  Flickers lap ants off the ground and probe in to ant hills with their tongue.

  • Woodpeckers lay 2 - 8 white eggs.  Both parents aid in incubation.  The young are born blind and naked.

  • All woodpeckers have a characteristic wing-beat pattern while flying:  3 flaps and glide, 3 flaps and glide.....


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