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Scientific Classification
Subfamilies & Genera


  • Jynx

Subfamily: Picumninae

  • Picumnus
  • Verreauxia

Woodpeckers are omnivorous birds that eat seeds, berries, nuts, fruits etc. They are found on every continent except polar regions, Australia and Madagascar. They live in dense forest and woodland. The smallest woodpecker is 8cm and biggest is 58cm. They are not big so they have numerous predators in their natural environment. Their predators are wild cats, foxes, rats, snakes and large birds. Most woodpeckers inhabit forest and woodland where many trees are, but few of them, live in areas like the desert and on hillsides where there are no trees. These few woodpeckers still behave the same, but they nest in holes, in rocks, and in plants such as cacti. Many woodpeckers are considered to be endangered animals. This is due to deforestation meaning that those large species of woodpeckers are losing their homes.[1]

Body Design

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Woodpeckers have various colors and are well known for their striking colors.They can be black, white, grey, tan, brown, red, and green. Their bright colored feathers help them to hide from their predators.They live in dense forests and woodlands so these colors disguise them from rat,snakes, and wild cats. Their sizes are mostly 3 to 23 inches and weights are 0.2 to 21 oz. Their wingspan is 4.7 to 24 inches and top speed is 12 mph. They have remarkably hard, long beaks which are used to make holes in the trees. By making holes in the trees, woodpeckers dig out the grubs that live under the bark. Their main diet is seed, fruit, and insects. Even though they rapidly peck tree trunks, they don't get any brain damage. This is because the muscle of woodpecker pushes the back of the jaw forward and the upper break shifts upwards absorbing the impact of the hit.

Woodpeckers also have spongy tissue which is called as shock absorber. Because of these woodpeckers are able to peck a lot and move their heads quickly without any headache.There are about 200 species of woodpeckers inhabiting forests and woodlands. However, there are a few species of woodpeckers that live in deserts where there are no trees at all. [1] Unlike most of the birds, woodpeckers' tongues are long but it doesn't dangle down because the slack is kept under the loose skin behind their neck. Back their, the tiny bones divide into two tongues which join before entering the beak. Woodpeckers' tongues have sharp ends for spiking bugs inside the tree. Their tongues are also sticky. [2] Unlike most tree birds, woodpeckers have two toes that go forward and two that go back. It helps woodpeckers to hold on to trees with their sharp claws. Woodpecker's tail feathers are very stiff so the bird can lean on them for support. [3]

Life Cycle

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Woodpeckers live in every continent except for polar regions, Australia, and Madagascar. They are omnivorous so they mostly eats seeds,berries,fruits,nuts,and bugs, but they especially like seeds the most. They make their nests in trees and peck trees to make the hole themselves. Female woodpeckers lay 3 to 5 eggs and those eggs hatch after just a couple of weeks which means their incubation period is that short. When woodpeckers' chicks become a month old, they usually leave. Female and male woodpeckers both feed woodpecker chicks,raise them, incubate the eggs, and make the hole for nesting. For example, downy woodpeckers mate in the early spring and both females and males make the nest by pecking holes. Mostly they peck a hole in a dead tree, fence post or sometimes, a telephone pole.

Even though they peck fast, it could take take up to two weeks to dig out.For downy woodpecker the eggs are incubated for less than 2 weeks. Downy woodpecker chicks leave the nest when they are about three weeks old. They dig out insects like beetles, wasps, moths and insect larvae to eat.They also eats berries and sunflower seeds. Their lifespan is 6 to 11 years.[4]


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Woodpeckers are found in woodlands,farmlands, suburban neighborhoods,parks,and orchards(mostly area that contains trees). There are around 200 species of woodpeckers inhabiting forests and woodlands worldwide. They eat variety of insects like larvae, wood-boring insects,ants, and beetles. They are cavity nesters;they use their bills to make holes into dead wood. They use cavity for nesting and roosting but secondary cavity users like squirrels, raccoon, bluebirds, and owls to name a few, will enlarge and use the cavities woodpeckers have created and abandoned. Therefore, providing places for a parasite of other species to inhabit. Also, they feed a variety of insects, maintaining those populations.Besides excavating a nest or roosting hole or to dislodge insects hiding under bark or siding, woodpeckers hammer to establish territory or find a mate. Pileated woodpecker are one of the common woodpeckers and also the largest woodpecker species in Wisconsin. It is mostly black and has red feathers on its head. There are black and white stripes down the face and neck; this is more common in male woodpeckers than female. Pileated woodpeckers are year-rounded residents in Wisconsin.[5]


There are various kinds of woodpeckers. Most known woodpecker are the Pileated Woodpeckers. They have an enormous range extending 5900000 square kilometers. They are usually 16 to 19 in. and weight from 8.8 to 12.3 oz., you can see this bird in North America. They live in the forest, but are also found in subtropical and tropical forests, and wetlands. Also they are often found in rural gardens and urban areas. The population of pileated woodpeckers is about 30,000 individual birds. They dig large rectangular holes in trees for their favorite meal: carpenter ants. These holes are so large so they can even sunder trees in half. Pileated Woodpeckers sometime peel long stripes of bark from tree to access morsels but they also supplement their diet with fruits and nuts. The birds mostly prefer large, older trees for nesting and usually inhabit a tree hole. As their forest habitats were systematically logged in the 19th and 20th centuries,Pileated Woodpeckers has declined in eastern North America. Recently, many forests have regenerated and woodpeckers now enjoy the corresponding growth. This can proved that birds to be adaptable to changing forest conditions. [6]

The red-headed woodpeckers is a small woodpecker usually about 7 to 9 in. size.They are one of only four species of woodpecker that stores food.They have a red head,neck,and also upper breast. They have a white lower chest and stomach but black wings with a white patch. There isn't any difference between males and females in appearance. They likes areas with dead or dying trees.The red-headed woodpeckers eat insects,spiders,nuts,seeds and fruits.Unlike most woodpeckers, they don't drill into trees to excavate insects.They store food under the bark of trees,and even under shingles of roofs. They could store a live grasshopper or beetle in a crevice. They make nests in holes deep trees,telephone poles,fence posts and under roofs. Female red-headed woodpeckers lay 3 to 10 eggs and incubate 12 to 14 days. They are solitary birds,except during mating and when raising young.[7]


This is a video about woodpeckers.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Woodpecker A-Z Animals. Web. Accessed 27 February 2013.
  2. Heinze, Thomas F. Who Designed Woodpeckers? Answers to My Evolutionist Friends. Web. Accessed 27 February 2013.
  3. Terres, John K. Woodpeckers Pelotes Island Nature Preserve Web. Accessed 27 February 2013
  4. Downy Woodpecker - Picoides pubescens NatureWorks. Web. Accessed February 27, 2013.
  5. Craven, Scott. Woodpecker ecology&damage management.University of Wisconsin: David Drake,2012.pg2. Print.
  6. Author,unknown. Pileated Woodpecker National Geographic. Web. Accessed on March 3,2013.
  7. Author, Unknown. Red-headed woodpeckers- Melanerpes erythrocephalus Natureworks. Web. Accessed on March 4,2013.