|Taking a break from the rigors of its normal routine, a Red-bellied Woodpecker|
opts for an easy meal at our suet feeder.
Estimates show that, between foraging for insects, mating displays or for purposes of territoriality, the average woodpecker will strike trees – and sometimes man-made structures, in excess of 12,000 times daily. If you’re even a casual birdwatcher, chances are that at one time or another you wondered how woodpeckers can rapidly and repeatedly hammer away on trees and not appear to suffer any ill effects. Studies have shown that the woodpecker’s brain is encased in a rather spongy bone casing that absorbs the shock of repeated pounding while extra muscle along the back of the woodpecker’s neck provide much needed support for their daily task.
|This Red-bellied Woodpecker has a firm grip on the trunk of an aged Cottonwood.|
As the photo above shows, Woodpeckers belong to the avian group classified as tree-clingers. It is on trees such as this where the Red-bellied Woodpecker’s tongue serves it well. It’s barb-covered tongue is nearly two and a half times the length of its bill, enabling it to better apprehend prey hiding in the cracks and crevices of thick bark.
|Don't let his diminutive stature fool you.|
Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers are quite similar in appearance. Both readily dine on berries, nuts & seeds but, most importantly they will aggressively seek out insects, including beetle larvae, adult beetles, ants, caterpillars, etc.
The Pileated Woodpecker is the heavy duty excavator of the tree-clingers, capable of busting out a large rectangular cavity in dead or decaying trees in search of their favorite food, carpenter ants. Whereas the Downy, Hairy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers are quiet, the Pileated is often heard prior to being spotted, its presence given away by a raucous CUK-CUK-CUK-CUK.
It has been a long while since we’ve wondered whether woodpeckers get headaches from their daily workload. Along the way we’ve not only come to appreciate their role in nature, we also came to realize that every species comes into this world equipped to do the job for which it was intended. Nothing was overlooked because ...........................God saw that is was good.
Until next time
Jim & Claudia