14 Amazing Facts about Woodpeckers

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Updated on: Educator Review By: Michelle Connolly

The woodpecker is one of the fascinating bird species. One of the birds threatened with extinction or has already become extinct due to the loss of their living places and increased human urbanisation. Chemical pollution has also played a negative role in not keeping woodpeckers in the wild because it works to destroy their eggs.

Woodpeckers attack tree trunks to find insects that live in cracks, so they dig nest cavities. They have a distinctive long beak that helps them pierce many trees. This bird is characterised by its bright colours and beautiful feathers, which enable it a lot in the camouflage process in the surrounding forests. It also has feathers, such as coarse hair, to help it preserve wood particles.

It also has feet with four fingers, two from the front and two from the back, and this arrangement ensures a firm grip on the branches and provides stability. The woodpecker eats insects in the first place, and it also eats fruits, nuts and nuts and feeds on insect larvae, eggs, tree sap, seeds and berries, but the types of its food depend entirely on the region in which it lives.

In the summer, the height of the woodpecker’s nest reaches 30 feet above the forest floor. At the same time, in the cold winter months, it resorts to making a cache of its food inside the cracks of trees or under its houses, so it stores nuts, cherries, corn and acorns to eat it during the cold winter months.

In some species, the tongue reaches 4 inches in length and has a glue-like substance on its tip. Most woodpeckers have one finger and are characterised by sharp claws in every direction to help them balance. The tail also maintains balance on the tree’s surface.

Woodpeckers are satisfied with one wife for life; the female lays between 2 to 5 eggs, and the incubation period takes 11 to 14 days. Depending on the species, woodpeckers can survive between 5 to 11 years in the wild. The male usually chooses the right site for the nest hole, but with the female’s consent.

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General Characteristics

Woodpecker is given its name because it usually makes noise by knocking and clicking tree trunks. There are about 180 species, most of which are found in South America and Southeast Asia. They vary in size, for example, the emperor’s woodpecker is more than 66 cm long, while the downy woodpecker does not exceed the size of a small sparrow and is the smallest member of the axaceae family.

This bird has a strong beak that enables it to pierce the bushes. It has powerful neck muscles. In addition, the legs are short but intense, unlike other birds with thin legs and feet. The woodpecker’s legs have four toes, two in the front and two in the back, for easy use in clamping trees.

Most woodpeckers have white, black, brown, green and red colours on their plumage. A few species also have olive green and grey colouring. They have a long beak and a long sticky tongue to pick up food from small holes and cavities.

Woodpecker Species

There are several species of woodpeckers. We mention the most famous of them:

  1. Pileated Woodpecker

The pileated is among the large species that live in North America. It breeds in the forests of Canada, the eastern United States, and some parts of the West Coast, where it builds its nests in dead trees.

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2. Imperial Woodpecker

The Imperial is a large beak whose body is usually covered with black and white feathers, and it has a large ivory beak. The male has a red occiput, and the female has a long, drooping black custom.

This type was last seen in 1956 after it was widespread in the tropical rain forests in Mexico. Scientists believe that the severe destruction of its natural habitat, in addition to hunting, has led this beak to extinction. But scientists have yet to lose hope that some individuals of this bird have managed to survive.

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An imperial woodpecker on a trunk

3. Ivory-billed Woodpecker

The Ivory-billed is considered one of the largest woodpeckers in the world. It was considered extinct until a video film proved its existence in 2005 in a swampy forest in the US state of Arkansas. This bird is listed on the endangered birds’ list.

Ivory Billed Woodpecker for Kids
A closeup of the ivory-billed woodpecker, Campephilus principalis.

4. Acorn Woodpecker

The Acron is a medium-sized bird in North, Central, and South America. The Acorn stores oak fruits in tree cavities and holes in the walls of buildings.

5. Great spotted woodpecker

The Great spotted is endemic to Europe and Asia. The large white patch can easily identify the bird on its shoulders and the black and white striped wing feathers.

Great Spotted Woodpecker Fcats for Kids
Poland,summer.Young great spotted woodpecker sitting on the branch.He is having the big red cap on his head unlike the specimen of the adult

6. Red-headed Woodpecker

The Red-headed is a small woodpecker found in the United States and Canada. It is easily recognisable by the red colour on its head, neck, throat and upper chest.

Red Headed Woodpecker for Kids
A closeup of a red-headed woodpecker on a tree

7. Black Woodpecker

The black woodpecker is one of the largest species of this bird and is found in Europe and Asia. It is the size of a crow, and black feathers cover all of its body except its crest.

Facts about woodpeckers

  1. After reconnaissance throughout his soil, the carpenter discovered an anthill, so he took blows at it with his beak until he brought out, regularly, what populates his stomach from those insects. In the evening, the castle became empty.
  2. If he does not find enough insects to feed him during the fall, the pecker becomes a vegetarian and suffices with a diet that mainly includes the fruits of blackberries, hazelnuts and oak nuts. He stores a reserve of them, even in the nest, to feed on them when necessary.
  3. In the spring, woodpecker males fill the corners of the forest with war cries and the call to the white weapon—the beak—duel in an individual fight to choose the fiancée. Its noise is almost like a storm of loud laughter.
  4. A spot under the eye distinguishes the male who bears the burden under the nest. Here, on a carpet of wood crumbs, the female sits, incubating her eggs with her loyal, keen, and kind companion.
  5. Each of the pecker’s legs has four fingers, two directed towards the front, and the other two ran backwards so that together they form pincers in the true sense. It has provided its tongue with hooks to extract insects from the hollow of its tunnels.
  6. When the chicks of the woodpecker reach the fifteenth day of their age, they begin their exercises in their green jacket and red hat to climb through the inner walkway of the nest, and as soon as they look outside, they make their first attempts to tap on the bark of the trees that host them.
  7. The woodpecker is a bird with zygodactyl feet, with the first and fourth toes pointing back and the second and third toes pointing forward to grasp tree trunks more efficiently.
  8. Blackbirds live in almost every region except Madagascar, New Guinea, New Zealand, Australia, and both the North and South Poles.
  9. The Picidae family includes 236 species of woodpeckers. About 20 of these species are at risk of extinction.
  10. The tongue is usually twice as long as its beak, and it can get into the crevices of insects. The bird’s tongue or saliva is also sticky so that it can adhere to the prey.
  11. The tongue wraps around the back of its head and acts as an absorber when the bird knocks.
  12. They are birds with feathers on their noses that keep wood debris out of their nostrils while drilling holes.
  13. They use their jackhammer-like beaks to pluck out insects, but they also snap their beaks to create rhythms to attract friends, challenge in a lawsuit, and sometimes just for fun.
  14. Most species do not migrate but remain in their chosen environment all year round. Two species migrate; the yellow flicker of the eastern United States.

Where do we find woodpeckers?

Crawfish live almost everywhere in the world, wherever woody habitats are found. A few species prefer rocky areas, and one species, the Gila woodpecker, exists on a cacti diet in its desert habitat. These birds do not live in the extreme polar regions of Australia and Madagascar.

Why do woodpeckers peck trees?

The woodpecker is one of the most famous voracious birds, as it can devour more than 900 larvae of beetle larvae or eat more than a thousand ants in one meal. Perhaps it pecks trees to obtain its food from insect larvae or ants contributes in one way or another to achieving the natural balance between living organisms.

These caterpillars and insects inside the bark of trees damage trees—regardless of what man contributes to the destruction of nature—so these birds provide great works for humanity.

Axe Beak

All members of the axolotl family are known for their ability to pierce tree trunks in search of insects, and they have a long tongue that they use to catch insects. The woodpecker’s beak is more prolonged, stronger, and luminous than the beaks of axes and brigades.

Predators and Threats

Habitat loss due to human encroachment is the greatest threat to woodpeckers worldwide. For example, the pesticides used by major agricultural companies to eliminate crop-eating pests are destroying a significant food source for domestic woodpeckers.

In the natural environment, they are at risk from predators even before they hatch.

Snakes and birds like forearms steal eggs from unprotected nests.

Predators of adult birds include feral cats, bobcats and mountain lions.

Some of the canine threats include foxes and wolves.

Large birds of prey, such as vultures and hawks, are also part of a well-balanced diet.


Woodpeckers nest in holes in tree trunks but dig their burrows when necessary. Some birds even nest in a telephone pole or a human dwelling. Most species use the nesting site for one breeding season and then move on. They are monogamous, with some exceptions; for example, an Acorn can establish a breeding group of up to 12 birds and raise the young together.


Females lay 2 to 5 eggs. Since the eggs are protected within the tree’s trunk, they have a better chance of hatching into live chicks than those in more exposed nests. Both parents keep the eggs warm for 12–14 days of incubation.

Once the baby hatches for the first time, it proliferates and is ready to leave the nest in about 30 days. They live between 4 and 12 years, on average. Some may live up to 30 years if environmental conditions are appropriate.

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A closeup shot of a mother great spotted woodpecker feeding its baby

Woodpecker Numbers

Of the 250 known species of woodpecker, approximately 20 have dwindled to dangerously low numbers, mainly due to habitat loss. The Bermuda Flash is now extinct. The ivory-billed, imperial, and Okinawa woodpeckers are all on the endangered birds’ list. Many ornithologists believe that the imperial and ivory-billed species are most likely extinct.

Popular Questions about Woodpeckers

  • Are Woodpeckers herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?

They are omnivores, as they eat plants and other animals.

  • To which kingdom do the woodpeckers belong?

They belong to the animal kingdom.

  • How does a woodpecker look?

Many species have redheads or red crests and lots of black and white feathers on their heads. They have long, pointed beaks that are strong enough to pierce wood. Most woodpeckers have four toes that end in claws. There is only one exception, and that is the American three-toed.

  • Where do woodpeckers live?

The species of woodpeckers live all over the world except for both the North and South Poles, Australia, New Zealand, Madagascar and New Guinea. Most live in wooded environments, although some live on rocky hillsides or in desert terrain.

  • Do woodpeckers migrate?

Only a tiny percentage of these species migrate as most of them live in their forests all year round. The yellow-throated flicker and the yellow-bellied flicker, both native to North America, are migratory species.

  • How many eggs does a woodpecker lay?

Most woodpeckers lay 2 to 5 eggs per mating season.

  • What is the speed at which the woodpecker flies?

Speed is not a typical characteristic of this bird. Their flying pattern consists of a few wing flaps and a high dive, so they move slowly from point A to point B. These birds spend most of their lives in trees in search of food. The adventurous bird can peck up to 20 times per second, either when to feed on a termite nest or to warn off intruders.

  • What is the wingspan of a woodpecker?

The wingspan of this bird depends on its type. For example, the cuttlefish, one of the largest species, has a wingspan of 30 inches. By contrast, one of the tiniest kinds, the Picolet, is less than 3 inches long with a wingspan to match its size.

  • When do the woodpeckers leave the nest?

The chicks get ready to leave the nest when they are about one month old.

If you are interested in knowing more about birds, you can also read about Doves, Pigeons, and Crows.

If you enjoyed learning about this facinating animal why not check out more fantastic facts about other animals: Koalas, Land Animals, Sharks, Raccoons, Moon and Sun Bears, Rats, Chickens, Cats, Pandas, Monkeys and Whales.

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