Woodpecker Facts



  • The black-headed woodpecker is a noisy bird with a loud, squawking call in flight, when its bright red rump contrasts with the green body and red-capped black head.
  • Woodpeckers are closely related to the colorful toucans and jacamars that live in tropical rainforests.
  • Woodpeckers, toucans, barbets, jacamars and honeyguides all have two toes on each foot pointing forwards and two pointing backwards. Their toes help them cling to trees and branches.
  • Woodpeckers use their powerful bills to bore into tree trunks to get at insects. They spear the insects with their incredibly long tongues.
  • Gila woodpeckers escape the desert heat by nesting inside giant saguaro cacti (where it can be 30°C cooler).
  • Redhead woodpeckers drill holes in trees and use them to store acorns for winter — wedging them in very tightly so that squirrels cannot steal them.
  • Woodpeckers claim their territory not by singing, but by hammering their bills against trees.
  • Honeyguides lead honey badgers to bees’ nests. The badger opens them to get the honey and the bird gets beeswax.
  • When toucans sleep, they turn their heads around and lay their bills down their backs
  • At 23 cm, the toucan’s bill is much longer than its body.