Imagine, for a moment, slamming your face into a brick wall going 16 miles per hour. This self-destructive (and foolish) act would require you to exert about 1,200 g of force. Yet, a woodpecker exerts the same force up to 20 times per second, and as many as 12,000 times per day, pounding its head into trees! How does it do this without getting concussions or retinal hemorrhages?!
Woodpeckers possess a suite of adaptations that makes them one of the most specialized bird families in the world. Each species’ anatomy perfectly suits its unique lifestyle, with different woodpeckers pos- sessing adaptations for aerial acrobatics, for drilling sap wells, or for extracting ants from underground burrows. Join North American woodpecker specialist Steve Shunk as we dive into the amazing world of woodpecker specialization.
About Steve Shunk
Stephen Shunk graduated from Lamar High School in Arlington, Texas, but he didn’t begin birding until
1989 in the San Francisco Bay Area. He started teaching about birds and their habitats in 1991, and
he conducted his first field work in 1995. Tired of living in the urban jungle, Steve left California in 1997, eventually landing in the forests of central Oregon’s“Woodpecker Wonderland”—where 11 woodpecker species breed annually. He has spent the last 20 years studying woodpeckers in his backyard and beyond, and his long-awaited Peterson Reference Guide to Wood- peckers of North America hit the shelves in May 2016.
Through his company, Paradise Birding, Steve led his first birding tours to Texas in 2009. As an accom- plished professional naturalist, he now leads birding and natural history trips on four continents, and he has lectured from North America to Southeastern Asia. Learn more about Steve at his websites www.ParadiseBirding.com and www.WoodpeckerWonderland.com.