While other birds use grass and twigs to make their nests, woodpeckers use their strong beaks to chisel tree trunks and catch insects.
Woodpeckers do not come out at night, they are active during the day but asleep during the night. Woodpeckers are diurnal, roosting at night inside holes and crevices. In many species, the roost will become the nest site during the breeding season, but in some species, they have separate functions, the grey-and-buff woodpecker makes several shallow holes for roosting which are quite distinct from its nesting site.
Surprise with interesting facts about woodpeckers
1. Why don’t woodpeckers get brain damage?
The pileated woodpecker, the largest species in North America, slams its head into tree trunks at 24km/h, 20 times per second. So why aren’t their heads falling to pieces?
Tight muscles, a sponge-like skull , and thick eyelids keep their brains intact.
Professor Schwab’s research shows that woodpeckers knock on hard surfaces up to 20 times a second with 1,200 times the force of gravity without any shock, with no damage to the retina, the brain. didn’t have any problems either.
“If you accidentally hit the head hard, you can break the blood vessels behind the iris, and also damage the nerves in this area. So when I see car accident victims and hear about woodpecker activity, a big question pops up in my mind as to why injuries don’t happen to these birds,” Schwab said. said.
Woodpeckers use straight blows like arrows on the trunk to reduce the feedback force, avoiding concussions to the head. In addition, the body of this bird is also designed with special details to minimize the negative impact.
A millisecond before the knock, the dense muscles in the bird’s neck contract, while the eyelids are closed, allowing some of the force to be released to the muscles in the neck, helping to protect the skull from the blows. stab the sky.
Compression bones in the skull combine to form a protective cushion. At the same time, tightly closed eyelids help woodpeckers protect their eyes from wood chips and keep their pupils in place – avoiding a strong impact that could throw or deflect the pupils.
“The eyelids act like a seat belt on a car to keep the eye from being shot out of the face. Otherwise, the force of acceleration could tear the retina apart, “ Schwab said. In addition, the very outer part of the eye is very strong and filled with blood, with the task of protecting the retina from shifting.
The bird’s brain is very strong to be able to cope with consecutive head strikes. In humans, when experiencing head trauma, the brain will be bumped and swayed in the layer of cerebrospinal fluid. However, woodpeckers do not have this fluid layer, reducing the risk of injury.
Along with the straight, arrow-like strokes of a tree trunk that help avoid concussions to the head, the bird’s body is also designed to minimize impact. A millisecond before the knock occurs, the dense muscle in the bird’s neck contracts, and the eyelids close tightly. Some of the force is released into the muscles in the neck and protects the skull from a great blow. The compressive bones of the skull also provide a protective cushion. Meanwhile, the bird’s tightly closed eyelids protect the eye from any wood chips and keep the pupil in place.
“The eyelids act like a safety belt and keep the eyes from getting shot out of the face ,” says Schwab. ” Otherwise the force of acceleration would tear the retina.” The outer part of the eye itself is also very strong and filled with blood to protect the retina from jostling.
Bird brains are also very strong in such head strikes. Injuries to the head often cause the brain to bounce around in the cerebrospinal fluid. But woodpeckers have almost no liquid layer.
While scientists aren’t sure if woodpeckers suffer from headaches, Schwab points out that the birds at least have a very good tolerance for pain. “During courtship, male woodpeckers can knock up to 12,000 times a day. If they had to say to their lover, ‘Not tonight honey, I have a headache,’ they would have done nothing wrong. That headache.”
2. The tail has sharp spikes
Woodpeckers have the ability to climb trees and tough bodies to adapt to life on tree trunks. Its tail has sharp spikes to attach to the trunk. When a woodpecker uses its leopard paw to cut into a tree, its tail acts as a third leg to help it cling firmly to the tree.
3. Smart and ingenious
Most woodpeckers use their beaks to chisel tree trunks to catch insects or make nests, but the acorn-eating woodpeckers of North and Central America have different characteristics. They punch hundreds of small holes in the trunk to store acorns and take them out when needed, especially in the cold winter.
4. Ground Woodpecker
As the name suggests, ground woodpeckers usually feed on the ground instead of in trees. They usually live on the savannah regions of South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho.
They also have an earthy coat to blend in with their surroundings. The main food of this bird is termites and other insects that live on the ground.
5. Climbing toe legs
Woodpeckers have a zygodactyl (zygodactyl) foot structure, that is, two toes point forward, two toes point back. This feature makes it easier for them to perch on the trunk while catching prey as well as moving on the ground.
6. A symbiotic relationship with hummingbirds
Several species of woodpeckers in North America are closely related to hummingbirds. During the process of woodpeckers chiseling trees to catch insects, hummingbirds will follow them to suck the sap that flows out.
In turn, the hummingbirds are tasked with warding off larger birds that want to steal the woodpecker’s feeding grounds. Hummingbirds often suck nectar from flowers, but the scarcity of nectar in winter causes them to suck on tree sap as an alternative food.
7. Gila Woodpecker
Living mainly in the deserts of the southwestern United States and Mexico , Gila woodpeckers often eat insects on cactus. In addition, they eat cactus and berries.
This bird is important to the Saguaro cactus because it captures harmful insects and cleans up damaged tree trunks.
8. The “shield” protects from wood chips and sawdust
The woodpecker’s nose has hard coats and soft feathers to help protect the nose from damage by wood chips and sawdust during the cutting process.
The hard bristles help prevent foreign objects from entering the nostrils while the soft bristles act as a filter to block dust as they breathe. In addition, woodpeckers also have a special layer of feathers that protect their eyes.
9. Woodpeckers catch flies
Unlike other woodpeckers that often chisel tree trunks to catch insects, the fly-catching woodpecker in the United States often hunts airborne insects such as flies or perches on tree trunks.
In the fall and winter, they usually eat acorns and other nuts. They also chisel tree trunks to make nests like other woodpeckers.
10. Crooked neck bird
The same family of woodpeckers, but the Eurasian crooked bird has a more sparrow-like appearance. Their necks are very flexible and can turn backward like snakes.
Crooked-necked birds often nest in open forests and feed on the ground. Their favorite food is ants.