Red-headed woodpecker in action - Veda Ng

Name and surname:
Veda Ng

Hong Kong


Social Media:

Red-headed woodpecker in action

Red-headed woodpecker

This picture illustrates how a red-headed woodpecker uses its unique physical features to drill holes for its offsprings or extract insects.

The woodpecker's beak has a chisel-like tip to help it drill holes in wood, cells in the tip is constantly replaced to prevent it being worn down. The bird has a lengthen hyoid apparatus, meaning its skull, cartilage and muscle are connected to the tongue, allowing its long tongue to extend up to three times the length of its bill. In addition, the tongue has a barbed tip, which is covered in sticky saliva to help it capture and extract insects from a hole.

The woodpecker's thick and spongy skull absorbs the shock of repeated drilling, it is placed tightly on the bird's brain to minimize damage to the brain.

When the woodpecker is in action, its translucent third eyelid, which is called nictitating membrane, is drawn across the eyes (see diagram on the bottom right). The layer provides visibility while protects the eyes from being damaged by the debris that flies out from the wood. Its bristly feathers over the nostrils also prevent inhalation of wood particles.

To balance itself on a tree, the bird's stiff tail acts as a prop and its feet have two toes facing forward and two toes facing backward to help it steady itself on the tree.




As the author of illustration I have given permission and consent to be loaded in Wikimedia Commons with Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0.