Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Totally True Tuesday ~ Guess Who

I come in over 180 species. My beak is chisel-shaped and helps me "carve" out wood. My tongue is super long and protects me from getting a headache when I'm hammering on a tree.

Did you guess who I am?

That's right. I'm a Woodpecker!

Can you imagine having the ability to hear a bug’s footsteps? How about a bug’s footsteps deep inside a tree trunk? You could if you were a Pileated Woodpecker.

Did You Hear That?

Even though its ears don’t stick out and are covered with feathers the woodpecker is always listening. As it slowly hitches up a tree, it pauses to lean its head against the bark. It can hear even the faintest of scraping noises made by his favourite lunch, the carpenter ant, but how is it going to get that bug out?

Come Out Come Out!

Unlike other birds the woodpecker’s beak is made of extra strong bone and is chisel-shaped. This special beak allows the woodpecker to pry off long strips of bark and dig into the tree creating a deep hole.

Now comes the sticky part.

The woodpecker uses its unique tongue to get the bugs out. How does it do this? Its tongue has bristles on the end and is super long. So long, it actually wraps up and around its skull, helping to protect its brain from damage. The woodpecker also has sticky spit. So with one quick flick of its tongue dinner is served.

Helpful Holes

What would a woodpecker peck when a woodpecker pecks at wood?

The answer to this riddle is really quite simple. The woodpecker will peck at any old tree as long as it contains bugs. And since they only excavate dead or dying trees, they’re not really hurting anything. In fact, holes made by woodpeckers are actually helpful. Birds such as nuthatches and swallows, as well as squirrels, use these holes for homes. These dwellers are known as "secondary cavity users."

More Woodpecker Wacky Facts

~Woodpeckers fly in an undulating pattern (like a roller coaster ride) with its wings beating rapidly, followed by a gliding with the wings tucked in.

~ Woodpeckers can live 4-11 years depending on the species

~ The most common colours of Woodpeckers are, black, white, red and yellow. A few even have orange, green, brown, maroon and gold feathers.

~ The biggest species of Woodpecker is the great slaty woodpecker of Southeast Asia. It measures 20 inches long or 50.8 cm.

~ The biggest North American Woodpecker is the Pileated

~ The Pileated Woodpecker drums on a tree to attract a mate and to establish territory. It's normal call sounds like this.

So the next time you’re on a nature walk, keep your ears perked and your eyes open, you may hear that tell-tale, rat-tat-tat sound and catch a glimpse of a wonderful woodpecker on his search for food.

Check out this video of a mother Pileated Woodpecker with her baby on their favorite tree - notice the large holes that have already been dug by these marvelous birds.


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