Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Woodpecker

"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10
Thursday mornings are my day to sleep in and lay in bed later than normal. In the quietness as I was still in bed this morning, I heard a woodpecker (at least that's what it sounded like) somewhere outside our house and I began to think about how amazing God's creation is. I don't know a lot about woodpeckers and I didn't get up to try to see the woodpecker (I probably wouldn't have actually been able to find it because of so many trees around our house anyway). Instead, I just stayed still and listened to this amazing creature and thought how do they do that?
Thank you, Lord, for directing my thoughts toward you in the stillness and quietness of this morning. Keep me from being too busy to "be still" and see your glory each new day. Click here to see YouTube video for "Everything Glorious" by David Crowder Band
I did a search on woodpeckers and found this's truly amazing when I stop to think about it...
Members of the family Picidae have strong bills for drilling and drumming on trees and long sticky tongues for extracting food. Many of the foraging, breeding and signaling behaviors of woodpeckers involve drumming and hammering using the bill. In order to prevent brain damage from the rapid and repeated decelerations, woodpeckers have a number of adaptations to protect the brain. These include small brain size, the orientation of the brain within the skull (which maximises the area of contact between the brain and the skull) and the short duration of contact. The millisecond before contact with wood a thickened nictitans membrane closes, protecting the eye from flying debris. The nostrils are also protected; they are often slit-like and have special feathers to cover them. Territorial drumming occurs most frequently in spring. The series of drumlike rolls are produced by rapid pecking on the resonant trunks and branches of dead trees.
Woodpeckers, piculets and wrynecks all possess zygodactyl feet. Zygodactyl feet consist of four toes, the first and the fourth facing frontward and the second and third facing back. This foot arrangement is good for grasping the limbs and trunks of trees. Members of this family can walk vertically up a tree trunk, which is beneficial for activities such as foraging for food or nest excavation. In addition to the strong claws and feet woodpeckers have short strong legs, this is typical of birds that regularly forage on trunks. The tails of all woodpeckers except the piculets and wrynecks are stiffened, and when the bird perches on vertical surfaces, the tail and feet work together to support it.
The diet of woodpeckers consists mainly of insects and their grubs taken from living and dead trees, and other arthropods, along with fruit from live trees, nuts and sap both from live trees. Their role ecologically is thereby keeping trees healthy by keeping them from suffering mass infestations.The family is noted for its ability to acquire wood-boring grubs using their bills for hammering, but overall the family is characterised by its dietary flexibility, with many species being both highly omnivorous and opportunistic. The insect prey most commonly taken are insects found inside tree trunks, whether they are alive or rotten wood and in crevices in bark on trees. These include beetles and their grubs, ants, termites, spiders,and caterpillars. These may be obtained either by gleaning or more famously by excavating wood. Having hammered a hole into the wood the prey is excavated by a long barbed tongue. The ability to excavate allows woodpeckers to obtain tree sap, an important source of food for some species.


MOM said...

That is really cool information.
Glad you had a nice morning.

Enjoyed the video also.

Thanks,Jen for the great post!

Toda La Gente said...

I always thought it was interesting and mind blowing, how a bird, squirrel, chipmunk, etc. can grasp a tree truck and just walk up a tree with their tiny feet/claws. It is truly amazing.
Thanks for the post