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A woodpecker is an arboreal bird that taps on tree trunks to forage for insect prey. They are part of the family Picidae and the subfamily Picinae. They can be found worldwide except in Australia and New Guinea.
See the fact file below for more information on the woodpecker or alternatively, you can download our 25-page Woodpecker worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
Name, Location, and Taxonomy
- Woodpeckers get its name from how they forage for food: they tap on tree trunks with their strong beaks and chisel holes in wood.
- There are around 180 species of woodpeckers.
- Woodpeckers are part of the family Picidae and the subfamily Picinae.
- Woodpeckers are mostly found in woodlands and forests where trees are abundant.
- They are dispersed in all continents except Australia and New Guinea.
- Woodpeckers are abundant in Southeast Asia and South America.
- The woodpecker has a tough, pointed beak which it uses to chip on bark, drum on trees, and find insects.
- The tip of their bill is chisel-shaped and sharp from all the pecking on wood.
- The tongue of a woodpecker can span up to four inches long.
- On its tongue is a glue-like substance which helps in extracting insects.
- Woodpeckers have zygodactyl feet – two toes pointing forward and two pointing backward – which help them hold onto tree trunks.
- They have sharp claws on their toes.
- Many species have bristel-like tail feathers which support their weight when they press against the sides of trees.
- They also have stiffened feathers over their nostrils that keep them from inhaling particles from wood.
Ecology and Behavior
- Woodpeckers help in keeping trees healthy by removing insect pests.
- The diet of woodpeckers mainly consists of insects.
- Some species eat fruit, berries, acorns, tree sap, and nuts.
- Woodpeckers tap on tree trunks to catch their prey living in cracks in the bark and to dig up nest cavities.
- Some woodpecker species drum on trees for two reasons: to communicate to other woodpeckers, and to engage in courtship.
- Woodpeckers tap on trunks around 8,000 to 12,000 times per day.
- Most species are not social and would rather be in pairs or remain solitary.
- The mating season and gestation period varies by species.
- The male and female parents work together to dig up a cavity in a tree where eggs can be incubated for approximately two weeks.
- The eggs are incubated for 11 to 14 days before hatching.
- A newly hatched woodpecker is blind and featherless.
- To protect their young, one parent must stay in the nest while another goes on to hunt food and bring it to the nest.
- The young woodpeckers should be ready to leave the nest after 25 to 30 days.
- The smallest type of woodpeckers are the piculets, which measure 3 to 4 inches long and can be found in Africa, South America, and Asia.
- Woodpeckers belonging to the Melanerpes species eat fruits and berries.
- The acorn woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus), which is found in the woodlands of western North America, depends on acorns for food during the winter.
- The red-headed woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) is dispersed in temperate North America.
- The hairy woodpecker (Dendrocopos villosus) is found in temperate North America.
- The downy woodpecker (Dendrocopos pubescens) is found in the woodlands of temperate North America.
- The great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) inhabits the forests of western Eurasia located south of North Africa.
- The Dryocopus species are known to be large in size and fast at flying.
- Well-known species of Dryocopus include the black woodpecker (Dryocopus martius), which is around 18 inches long, and the pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus), which is 15.5 to 18.25 inches long.
- There are two species of three-toed woodpeckers namely the black-backed three-toe and the northern three-toed woodpecker.
- The crimson-backed woodpecker (Chrysocolaptes lucidus) is commonly found in woodlands in India and the Philippines.
- The green woodpecker (Picus viridis) is found in temperate Eurasia.
- The red-cockaded woodpecker inhabits pine forests in southeastern United States.
- The ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus principalis) is a critically endangered woodpecker originally found in Cuba and the southern United States and was rediscovered in eastern Arkansas in 2006.
- Woodpeckers are both useful and disturbing to humans. They are useful in removing insect pests from trees. They are detrimental when they feed on fruit crops or make holes in wooden structures.
- Woodpeckers are usually silent except during spring season where they make loud calls and drum loudly as a sign of males locking in their territories.
- About 20 species face the threat of extinction because of habitat destruction.
- The ivory-billed woodpecker and the imperial woodpecker of Mexico are considered extinct.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about woodpecker across 25 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Woodpecker worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about a woodpecker which is an arboreal bird that taps on tree trunks to forage for insect prey. They are part of the family Picidae and the subfamily Picinae. They can be found worldwide except in Australia and New Guinea.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Woodpecker Facts
- What Are Woodpeckers?
- Parts Of A Woodpecker
- Woodpecker Or Not
- Woodpecker Whereabouts
- Woodpecker Collage
- Food in the Wood Search
- Building Vocabulary
- Five Fun Facts
- Without Woodpeckers
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Link will appear as Woodpecker Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, February 23, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.