” His Bill an auger is
His Head, a Cap and Frill
He laboreth at every Tree
A Worm, His utmost Goal ”
You name a bird, Emily would have sung about it! Emily’s magic brings the woodpecker and places the bird right before your eyes!
The black rumped flameback woodpecker is the one that is commonly seen around my house in Kerala. That reminds me, I have never seen the bird sitting on a branch idly. They are always on their toes (seriously! They have zygodactil feet, with four toes, for strong grip) engrossed in the rhythmic carpentry work.
I learnt some interesting facts about these hardworking folks in vibrant armour and cap. (courtesy to outdoor revival.com). They are the only ones among birds that do not collect twigs and grass to build nests. They construct spacious wooden houses to dwell in and are said to be the proud owners of some luxurious homes. Woodpeckers drill out chambers and are primary cavity-nesting birds. They change their cavities often and this love for moving houses, make them good samaritans as the old homes are by default donated to other small birds and small animals like squirrels.
It is amazing to know that the woodpecker knocks at tree trunks around 12,000 times a day, an average of 100 times per minute! Nature has her way of protecting their little brains. A bone loops around the brain and that saves it from injuries when the powerful hammering happens. The upper and lower beaks are of different length, hence the impact of the hitting is evenly distributed. The woodpecker’s tail is strong and sturdy and acts as a third leg.
Woodpeckers have bristles in their nostrils to filter the dust! To protect the eyes from the debris that fly around while they chisel the wood, there is a third translucent eyelid that moves forth and back keeping the visibility in tact at the same time. Amazing are the ways of Mother Nature!
Woodpeckers are the drummers and not the singers among the birds. As they don’t have vocal cords, they tap on metal or wooden surfaces to communicate.They are monogamous, one mate for a lifetime.
Ted Hughes too has written about the Woodpecker, about its bouncing rubber brains and about the poor oak that cries in terrors and pains as the bird bangs on the wood! Dickinson being my favourite her Woodpecker is my favourite too!
And Australia, New Zealand and Madagascar are the three places where these drummers are not seen!