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Meet Our Local Woodpeckers

FingerLakes1.com

Posted Wednesday,March 9, 2011 @ 12:02 am

We've all heard the pecking of our local woodpeckers and have marvelled at their beauty and form. FingerLakes1.com contributing photographer Laurie Dirkx was in Penfield recently where she photographed 4 different kinds of woodpeckers at the same feeder.

Hairy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker  (More Info)

Hairy Woodpecker
Red-Bellied Woodpecker  (More Info)

Hairy Woodpecker
Downey Woodpecker  (More Info)

Hairy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker  (More Info)

All photos by Laurie Dirkx

HOW CAN YOU TELL IF A BIRD IS A WOODPECKER?
The most famous woodpecker is the Pileated (pill-ee-ate-ed) Woodpecker, better known as Woody Woodpecker.  You can see woodpeckers hanging onto the side of a tree.  Many woodpeckers have a black back with white marks.  Some have red heads or yellow chests.  Listen for pecking. 

HOW DO THEY HANG ON TO TREES?
Woodpeckers have special feet with 2 backwards toes instead of just one.  That’s like having an extra thumb to help them hold on.  Their sharp claws help too.  A woodpecker’s stiff tail feathers let him lean back and rest on his tail. 

HOW DO THEY FIND FOOD?
When they hear a bug under the bark, they peck a hole with their beaks.  The woodpecker has an extra-thick skull, so he doesn’t get a headache from all that pecking.  His beak is long, straight, and pointy, good for making holes.  His tongue is extremely long with a sharp end for spiking bugs inside the tree.  This tongue is also sticky, so it can stick to ants in the tree or lick up sap.  The straight bill is also good for collecting nuts and berries.  Many woodpeckers don’t migrate (fly south for the winter).  They live in a warm tree hole all year and eat the bugs that live underneath the bark.  They can also go to bird feeders for peanut butter and suet (prepared cow fat). 

WHAT ABOUT WOODPECKER BABIES?
Woodpeckers use their beaks to sing and drum on trees.  This attracts a mate.   After they find a mate, both the boy and girl help to peck a hole in a tree.   They tunnel down into the tree 1-2 feet, then make a wood chip nest at the bottom.   Both the girl and the boy take turns sitting on the eggs and feeding the babies.

(Source: Terres, John K. The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds. Random House. New York: 1991)

Below is a list of all specied of woodpeckers that call upstate New York their home:

Lewis's Woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis)
Red-headed Woodpecker (M. erythrocephalus)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (M. carolinus)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)
Hairy Woodpecker (P. villosus)
Three-toed Woodpecker (P. tridactylus)
Black-backed Woodpecker (P. arcticus)
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)
Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)

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