Woodpeckers are little wonders of nature, because they come with many special features. They aren’t like normal song birds and I’m going to write about these characteristics by showing you some woodpecker stuff I own. My beloved aunty found these mortal remains on the picture above so I don’t know the cause of death, but please read more under the cut.
The skulls of woodpeckers have a special shape so it’s very easy to tell them apart from other bird skulls. A woodpecker head must resists hard hits because it pecks on wood with a massive speed and strength. You can find two different kinds of “buffer” on a woodpecker head and one of them is a special spongelike stuff called cancellous bone. If you compare a woodpecker skull with a skull of a common blackbird you can see the place where that cancellous bone was.
|Left: Blackbird. Right: Spotted woodpecker. The dent where the cancellous bone was is easy to see.|
The other “buffer” I was talking about is its tongue. In any event the tongue of a woodpecker is very special, because it is very long like a whip, it has barbs at the end and it is sticky. That’s nasty! It isn’t easy to explain but the tongue has its roots near the nostrils so it bends around the skull like a snake. And last but not least, the braincase is in a higher position than by a normal bird and it has less liquid inside, so the brain is well bedded and safe from shocks.
A woodpecker needs sharp claws when he hangs vertical on a tree trunk. But this alone isn’t enough as woodpeckers also have a special toe which can bend backwards. I think it’s called zycodactyly feet. Some parrots and owls have that characteristic, too. But a woodpecker needs more than that special toe and strong claws to hang savely on a trunk. Woodpeckers have special tail feathers to support its body when hanging.
Have a look on some feather I found in the forest. They look so pretty with these white spots.
After knowing these facts about woodpeckers you might see them with new eyes.