The Wonderful Life of a Woodpecker

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If you’ve ever heard a woodpecker tirelessly pecking at a tree, the origin of its name probably doesn’t come as a surprise. But did you know why they peck at trees?

‘All tree-dwelling woodpeckers peck trees as form of communication, to build nests and to get invertebrate food hidden in the bark or wood’, explains the ranger team at Makakatana Bay Lodge. in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa.

‘Woodpeckers have developed the power to peck into wood and bark with an incredible force. Therefore their brains are adapted to not be bashed out and their bills are prevented from cracking off throught heir design too. This means that they are able to absorb and disperse the shock associated with bill-hammering or drumming.

Thire long, sticky and barbed tongues are up to 15cm long in some species and are coiled within the head, being attached to the base of the upper bill. The barbs at the end are used to hook and extract small insects from cracks and invertebrate larvae from tunnels.’

Woodpeckers are a frequent sight in iSimangaliso, South Africa’s first World Heritage Site. “Twitchers” flock to the area throughout the year to catch a glimpse of woodpeckers and the other over 500 bird species that inhabit this unique wonder of nature.