Interesting Facts About Woodpeckers

woodpeckerWoodpeckers are colourful and beautiful birds, well-known for pecking the wood of trees with their pointed beaks. And this unique characteristic of these birds does justice to their name: woodpecker. Woodpeckers belong to the Picidae order, but now only eight members of this order are alive that include jacamars, puffbirds, barbets, toucans, and honey guides. There are about 200 known species of woodpecker, but the two largest species, namely, the Ivory-billed woodpecker and the Imperial woodpecker are believed to be extinct. Degradation of forests could result in the extinction of other species too because woodpeckers are largely found in dense forests and woodlands. Woodpecker spends half of the day pecking the wood. They don’t make any call; however, they create a drumming sound while pecking wood or pole. These birds are omnivorous and eat fruits, tree saps, and insects. Read on to explore some more facts about woodpeckers. 

Fast Facts 

Scientific Name: Melanerpes formicivorus
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Superorder: Neoaves
Order: Piciformes
Suborder: Pici
Family:  Picidae
Infraclass: Neognathae
Genera: Melanerpes, Sphyrapicus, Xiphidiopicus, Dendropicos, Dendrocopos, Picoides, Veniliornis, Campethera, Geocolaptes, Dinopium, Meiglyptes, Hemicircus, Micropternus, Picus, Mulleripicus, Dryocopus, Celeus, Piculus, Colaptes, Campephilus, Chrysocolaptes, Reinwardtipicus, Blythipicus, Gecinulus, Sapheopipo
Species: More than 200
Diet: Fruits, tree sap, insects, larvae
Size: 9-13 inch
Weight: 7-600 g
Lifespan: 6-11 years
Natural Habitat: Dense forests and woodlands
Gestation Period: 18-35 days
Number of Offspring: 4-7 eggs 

Interesting & Fun Facts About Woodpeckers

  • Woodpeckers have a very thick skull and squashy bone that provide protection to woodpeckers while drumming against the tree trunks.
  • Woodpeckers drum new holes every year and the old holes are used by other birds for nesting and other activities.
  • They store their food in the cracks of woods, under the tree bark and roof shingles, and inside fence posts. The food is stored with such precision that it can’t escape because woodpeckers sometimes store living insects and worms.
  • Woodpecker uses the central portion of its tail to prop itself up on a tree.
  • A woodpecker has very long tongue that helps it in excavating the insects from the tree trunks.
  • Most of the species have zygodactyls feet: two of their toes point forward while the other two point backward.
  • All woodpeckers fly in a typical pattern that includes three flaps followed by a single glide, but during the flight their wings are tucked against their body as opposed to many other birds with extended wings.
  • Woodpeckers do not have a sound of their own; instead they drum against trees or metal chimneys. They can drum 8000-12,000 times a day at a speed of 13-15 miles an hour, which turns out to be 20 times a second.
  • Woodpeckers are found everywhere exceptNew Zealand,Australia,Madagascar, and some oceanicIslands.
  • Both male and female woodpeckers are involved in bringing up their young ones. During gestation period, the male woodpecker pecks the wood laboriously while the female rests.
  • Woodpecker has very long tongue that can be wrapped around their skull. It can be up to four inches long.
  • The piculets are the smallest woodpecker species found in South-America andAsia. They measure up to 3-4 inches. The bar-breasted piculet is the smallest woodpecker weighing 7 g with the size of 8 cm.
  • Ivory-billed woodpecker of the virgin forests of south-eastern United States is the largest woodpecker specie that measures 20 inches in length and 30 inches in wing span. But it is now believed to be extinct.
  • Downy woodpeckers have a unique characteristic of making themselves invisible by flattening themselves against the tree trunk. In this way, they are able to trick the predators.
  • The bright patches of red and yellow colours on their heads and bellies are important in signalling.
  • The eyes of woodpecker are covered with a nictitating membrane—a transparent and translucent third eyelid—that protects its eyes from flying debris while hammering.
  • The strong claws and feet along with stiffened tail help the woodpecker to balance and walk up the trunk of trees vertically.
  • Although woodpeckers are found in almost all the suitable habitats, including woodlands, savannahs, scrublands, and bamboo forests, but their greatest diversity is found in the rainforests.
  • Almost all the species of woodpeckers survive on trees, except the ground woodpeckers, that inhibits in the rocky and grassy hills ofSouth Africa.  They nest in holes in the ground.
  • Woodpeckers are highly aggressive and antisocial. They always show their aggression to other members and groups of their species.
  • In order to increase the feeding rate and decrease the anti-predator vigilance, woodpeckers may join the flocks of other insectivorous birds.
  • The sapsuckers, one of the species within the woodpecker family, obtain tree sap—a famous source of food—while excavating the prey from the hole. Acorn woodpecker, white-headed woodpecker, arabian woodpecker, and great spotted woodpecker also feed in the same way.
  • Most of the species of woodpecker excavate the holes during breeding season and they spend around one month excavating one hole.
  • There is no need to camouflage the eggs as these birds nest in cavity. Moreover, the white colour of eggs help the parents identifying them in dark.
  • The eggs are incubated for 11-14 days and the young ones get ready to leave the nests in 18-30 days.