How Hard Do Woodpeckers Peck?

A woodpecker can peck with force amounting to around 1000 times that of gravity. In order to achieve this, a woodpecker moves its head at a speed close to 20 feet per second (or 6m/s). The birds use this ability to bore into trees in order to excavate insects from bark and crevices in the wood, or to tap tree sap.

The bird's skull is designed to mitigate the effects of such rapid and forceful movement on its brain, and contains spongy bone plates as insulation against the vibrations.

Scientists have studied woodpecker anatomy in order to develop more effective head protection for people.

More about woodpeckers:

  • The red bellied woodpecker has a tongue up to three times longer than its beak. It stores the tongue in a space between its skull and skin.
  • Woodpeckers also use their ability to drill into trees in order to creating a nesting site for eggs.
  • The ivory-billed woodpecker was thought extinct until it was spotted in 2004 in Arkansas and again in 2005-2006 in Florida. However, there has yet to be a conclusive sighting of this bird.

Discussion Comments


How interesting.Once, while vacationing with my family in the San Bernardino mountains, we observed a woodpecker who came to visit us and sat on one of the patio chairs.

My kids were thrilled and fed it some pieces of pancakes we were having for breakfast which the bird gladly and quickly devoured. I guess happy to have something different and delicious to eat without having to work so hard.

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