Bird of the Week: Woodpecker

Here in my state there are several common varieties of woodpeckers. There are around/about 240 different species of woodpeckers all over the world with just under 25 species that live in the US and around seven in my home state of West Virginia.

Woodpeckers can often be heard during the summer months pecking on trees. The tapping noise is very distinct and you know you’re listening to a woodpecker. Not only do woodpeckers peck to collect bugs or build their home, they also use pecking to communicate. If you want a better chance of attracting them to  your yard, using pink or purple flowers can help. You can also put out a feeder with nuts and berries. If you’re interested in woodpeckers, here are a few more facts about them.


They are typically more interested in eating from dead trees. The wood is softer and there are more bugs to eat.
Their tongues are about twice the size as their bill, and they are usually sticky. That helps them pull bugs out of the holes.

They don’t reuse their old holes. They prefer to peck new holes every year. You can see where a woodpecker is living by the perfect circle they drill out of a tree.

Their skull/head is made to buffer the vibration from the constant pecking. Woodpeckers can peck on a tree up to twenty times a second, most humans or animals would have a horrible headache, or brain damage from banging their face against a tree that fast/long. Woodpeckers are made to prevent brain damage.

Their bodies are made to be able hold on and grip branches and balance on tree limbs while they drill into trees.

Besides just bugs, they also love visiting nut and berry feeders (or wild nuts and berries).

Most woodpeckers mate with just one other bird for the entirety of their lives, there are some species where the female will mate with multiple partners, but most are monogamous.

Different species tend to vary in average sizes but a Pileated Woodpecker, for instance, is about 16-19 inches (on average) and around 10ozs. Some species are larger and some are smaller. The Downy Woodpecker is only around 14-18 cm and can weigh less than an ounce.

The majority of woodpecker species can be found in South America and Southeast Asia but can be found nearly everywhere in the world.

Woodpeckers can be very beneficial to your garden because they feed on pests, but they drill holes in wood so they can be a hazard to a tree. On occasion, they may try to drill into wood; so you do need to watch out if you have a wood house and a lot of woodpeckers in the area, but if they are just attracted to one of your trees, you don’t have as much to worry about.


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