Woodpeckers - Piciformes

Woodpeckers are found world wide with the exception of the poles and in New Guinea, New Zealand, Australia and most of Oceana.

Six different families of birds make up the order; Jacamars, which live in the tropical forests of America; Barbets, which live in the tropical forests of both eastern and western hemispheres; Toucans (yes, they are part of the same family!), which live in Central and South America; and Honey Guides, found in Africa, south Asia and Malaysia. In size, they range from tiny tropical piculets to the big imperial woodpecker of the Sierra Madres in Mexico.

They tend to be birds solitary birds but sometimes can be found as a pair. They feed on insects, using their hard and pointed beak to chisel their way into the bark of a tree for food. Some flickers, though, are ground feeders and will look for insects at the base of a tree. They communicate by hammering out taps to other woodpeckers.

Some species have three-toes while other have four, but all woodpeckers have short legs and long, strong toes with curved, sharp nails so that they can cling to trees. They also have very stiff central tail feathers that help them prop themselves up while climbing or resting. In certain circumstances woodpeckers will exhibit the most un-woodpecker behvior, as you will see in some of the photos.

They also have an extremely long tongue and a skull which encases the brain to protect it from the constant hammering the brain must endure thoughout the live of the bird. It's this ability to hammer into hard surfaces that also makes a woodpecker a pest in certain areas of the world, including the U.S. Here, in central California, Acorn Woodpeckers leave their mark on utility poles throughout the area.

Given the recent media hype regarding the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, the largest North American Woodpecker, the Imperial Woodpecker or Mexcian Ivorybill, Campephilus imperialis, may also be extinct. These two giant woodpeckers would certainly make a statement on a wood house or structure! Here are just a few of my favorite piciformes I've come to enjoy.

  Raptor Art - These are a series of six raptor portraits I've created
They make excellent gifts for Christmas, Father's Day or the Birder.
Prtraits are of a Great-Horned Owl, Western Screech Owl, Peregrine Falcon, American Kestrel,
Red-Tailed Hawk and Red-Shouldered Hawk which are for sale.

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All images © Anthony Galván III

Any use requires written permission