What Are Some Unique Woodpecker Characteristics | Physical, Behavior and Lifestyle:

It can be very frustrating to hear the regular hitting sound on the wood, but woodpeckers keep doing it for hours and still don’t get tired. 

Intro Video - Backtobirds
Intro Video - Backtobirds

Why and how can they do it? There must be some unique characteristics that distinguish them from the rest of the birds. 

So what are they? What makes woodpeckers different? This article will tell you about these woodpeckers.

Some Fun Facts About Woodpeckers:

Here are some fun facts about these hard-working architectures on your journey to knowing woodpeckers.

  • They never get brain damage.
  • They build nests for others as they vacate their home after a year, and other birds use their perfectly carved holes. 
  • They are different from other birds, as they climb down a tree, their tail heads first, unlike other birds who follow with an upside-down body.
  • Like other birds, they don’t perch on branches but keep clinging to the trees. Their body is built in such a way.
  • It takes a woodpecker almost a month to make a hole big enough to act as a nest. 

Related Read: Birds Body Parts: 21 Things And Facts You Should Know

How Would You Describe A Woodpecker’s Character?

You can call them the bird architect. They are arboreal birds. They don’t perch on branches or make sounds like other birds. 

They use their trunk to make sounds and keep clinging to the trees. That’s how they feed too. They eat insects hidden in tree trunks. Not all of them are the same. 

There are almost 200 species found globally, but you won’t see these hard-working birds in New Zealand, Australia, and Madagascar.  These different species have different characteristics. 

Related Read: Why Do Birds Attack Windows | Can Birds See Through Glass?

Related Read: What Birds Sound Like Owls?

Types of Woodpeckers:

Here are several species of woodpeckers in the wild, but in urban areas, you only see a handful of these birds. 

Not all of them are the same. They also differ in size, color, what they eat, what kind of a life they lead, etc. Some common woodpecker species are-

  • Acorn Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Red-Bellied Woodpecker
  • Northern Flicker
  • Red-Headed Woodpecker
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • American Three-Toed Woodpecker
  • Ladder-Backed Woodpecker

Some eat insects while holding onto trees with their strong claws, or some suck sap from the trees, while others eat insects from the ground. 

These different types are found in different territories.  

Physical Characteristics Of Woodpecker

These are different from other birds in their lifestyle, their nesting pattern, how they live, and even how they are built. Here are the physical characteristics of woodpeckers which will tell you how they do what they do.

They Have A Safety Loop:

Most people wonder why woodpeckers don’t get brain damage if they keep hitting the trunk all day. But they come with a safety loop. It is a bone that sits around their skull and saves it. 

Their Bill Is Different Sized:

The upper part of the bill is longer than the lower side. It also reduces the impact of hitting their beaks. 

They Have Long Tongue:

Woodpeckers are blessed with extra long tongues, which measure almost double their bill size. It helps them to retrieve the insects living deep under the tree trunk. 

It can measure up to 4 inches. Quite a length for such a small bird. The tongue is gluey, and insects stick on it as they push their tongue inside a hole.

They Don’t Have Vocal Cords:

Poor woodpeckers! The hitting sound is their only way of communication as they don’t have vocal cords. They hit the tree trunk differently to alert their partners or call them. 

It is really fun to see a woodpecker hitting a trunk. The sound they make is quite high and sometimes can be very disturbing.

Their Noses Are Covered With Feathers:

That’s something very different from other birds but very important for woodpeckers. They hit on trees that produce sawdust and make wooden splinters fly in the air. 

It is covered with feathers to ensure that they don’t get these foreign inside their nose.

Different Birds Have Different Sizes:

Not all woodpeckers are the same in size. They range from 6 inches to 20 inches long. The acorn woodpecker is around 8 inches long. 

The size of a downy woodpecker is only 6 inches. The Pileated woodpecker is only slightly smaller than a crow, measuring 18 inches long. 

The ivory-billed woodpecker is also 18 inches long. Their size differs based on their species and where they live and eat. 

They Have Strong, Clawed Toes:

Woodpeckers sit on a tree in an upright position. They hold on to the tree with their claws. They have short legs, which are quite strong. 

They have strong, sharp-toed laws on them. Two facing forward and two facing backward. They ensure a strong grip on the tree. 

Woodpeckers Don’t Live In Nests Made Of Twigs:

Woodpeckers keep hitting on the trunks not only for food but also for making a place to spend the night. 

These birds work hard and need proper rest at night. They carve the insides of a tree trunk and make their home sweet home in it. 

They leave their homes after a year, and other birds can occupy them. It acts as a haven for the little woodpecker kids as well. Both the male and female woodpecker make their nest.

They Have A Set Flying Pattern:

Woodpeckers even fly differently. They have four wings, out of which three snap and the fourth one glides them through the air. They repeat it all the time, and that’s the only way how all the woodpeckers in the world fly.

They Have Sharp Tail:

Woodpecker tail works differently for it. It acts as a support system when the woodpecker is hitting the tree.Even if the bird doesn’t get a headache, it hits the wood quite strongly, and thus, it needs a strong footing, which comes from its tail. 

It sits behind them and sticks to the tree, making a tripod with its legs and tail, allowing the bird to do its job. 

Woodpecker Behavior:

Different species have different behavior. They are busy birds and don’t waste much time flying in groups. 

Some of them live in groups while others like to make a small family alone. It involves only a male, a female, and their kids. 

Woodpeckers hit the tree trunk at least 10000-12000 times a day and still don’t get tired. They hit the tree to make a home or to feed on insects. 

Woodpeckers play a very important role in the life of trees. They save them from infestation by eating out the insects and termites, which harm the trunk. In urban areas, it might be disturbing, but they are only doing their duty. 

If you see a woodpecker in your yard hitting on your tree trunk, bear it. They don’t harm the tree but save it. Or even if they make it home, they will vacate it after a while. 

Woodpeckers’ lives revolve around trees. They use them to communicate with other birds. If they wish to court a female, they make different sounds on the trunk. Drumming is all they have got, and they do it rigorously throughout the day.

Related Read: Do Birds Get Tired Of Flying | How Long Can Birds Fly Without Stopping?

Lifestyle Of Woodpeckers:

The lifestyle of woodpeckers is simple. They are diurnal birds, so they wake up early in the morning. If you hear a drilling sound early at dawn, it’s most probably a woodpecker. They will start finding food in the tree trunk. 

If it’s mating season, they will start making nests. They find rotten wood for nesting purposes or a cavity in a tree. 

All-day, they keep drumming. They also drum to alert their partner or call for them. It doesn’t mean that woodpeckers can’t speak. They can make screaming, wailing, high-pitched, and rattling sounds to communicate. Their drumming also differs based on the purpose of calling. 

Mating Of Woodpeckers:

A male attracts a female, and together they start making a family. They start by mating and then building a home for their kids. Both the parents have equal participation in making a nest.  

The reproduction cycle and gestation period differ from species to species. The female lays two to five eggs which incubate for approx. two weeks. These babies are void of any feathers and can’t see. They depend on their parents solely for feeding them. 

One of the parents stays in the nest all the time while the other one searches for food. These birds develop their feathers and are ready to leave their nests in four to five weeks.

Woodpecker Adaptation Characteristics:

If you talk about adaptation, a woodpecker’s body has several characteristics which make their job easier. 

First is their spongy skull, which absorbs the shock from drilling. Their tongue is designed to glue up the insects around it from deep inside a hole. Their tail is such that it supports their body while hitting. 

Third, their claws make it possible for them to stay upright for such a long time as woodpeckers hit throughout the day. 

Fourth, they help in maintaining ecological balance by saving the trees from termite or ant infestation. They make sounds that don’t come from inside their body and they are the only birds to be able to do that.

Final Words

Nature is full of amazing creatures. Woodpeckers are one of them. These little birds play an important role in ecology. 

They are the possessors of some unique characteristics which have been discussed above. So, next time you see a woodpecker, try listening to it, and you may hear a love song.