Fantastic Woodpeckers

woodpeckerBird watching is a pastime that many people enjoy. There’s certainly something majestic about the blue heron, and it’s almost breathtaking to watch a hawk flying overhead as he is on the hunt. Another popular bird is the woodpecker. There are multiple species of woodpeckers and many of them (but not all) have the distinctive and beautiful red heads. And although most of us remember the iconic Woody Woodpecker cartoon from decades ago, that character actually had little in common with these incredibly smart and hardworking birds.

Woodpeckers use their bills to drill into trees in order to forage for food. They are an important part of ecology, as they provide a way to balance things out by eating insects. Although insects definitely have their places in the natural world, keeping their population under control is part of being a woodpecker. These birds eat all different types of insects, including ants, grubs, or beetles. They also feast on spiders and tree sap. They mostly live in wooded areas where their food supply is easily obtainable. And because they feed on bugs that are known to damage trees (bark lice and wood borers), they are known to contribute to healthy trees. They are nature’s answer to help with bug control.

Another interesting fact about these birds is regarding their living habits. There are some species that are very aggressive and tend to live alone. Other species tend to live in groups and communal habitats. Some of them stay in the same spot year round, others migrate with the changing of the seasons. Another interesting fact about these birds is that some of them have four toes – two of which face forward and two that face backwards. This helps them balance on tree bark by helping them grip the tree more tightly. And although not everyone can appreciate the sounds that the birds make, there’s little doubt that they are actually good for the environment. Their habit of drilling into trees isn’t just about searching for food, it is a form of communication.