Woodpecker: Key Facts

Sometimes it seems like woodpeckers will hammer on anything in sight. Wouldn’t all this pounding hurt their heads or beaks after a while? Actually, woodpeckers are well adapted to all of the pecking they do. Read on to learn more woodpecker key facts.

Quick Facts About Woodpeckers

Scientific NamePicidae
Physical DescriptionSmall to medium-sized bird of flight. Markings vary widely by species, but many woodpeckers have black, white, red, and gray feathers. Most have long, stiff tail feathers, and some have pointed crown feathers on the tops of their heads. Woodpeckers have strong, sharp beaks and barbed tongues used for extracting insects from holes they bore in wood.
Number of Species238
DistributionWidely distributed throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa
HabitatWoodpeckers live in a variety of habitats but prefer forested areas. Some common woodpecker habitats include oak and pine forests, savannas, and tropical rain forests.
Migrational HabitsWoodpeckers do not migrate except in cases of food shortage, and then they do not return to their native region.
DietWoodpeckers eat many things, including:
– Insects
– Nuts
– Seeds
– Fruit
– Suet
– Tree sap (Sapsuckers love it too)
– In some cases, other birds or bird eggs
Average SizeVaries depending on species; from 3 ½ inches to 23 ½ inches in length
Average Lifespan4 to 12 years depending on species
Largest SpeciesImperial Woodpecker
Smallest SpeciesPiculet
Unique Characteristics– A woodpecker has strong muscles just behind its beak to help absorb the shock when they peck wood.
– Woodpeckers can deliver up to 100 pecks per minute, pecking trees at a rate of 15 miles per hour.
– The barbs on a woodpecker’s tongue are perfect for reaching into holes in the wood and extracting wood-boring insects to eat.

What is a Woodpecker?

A woodpecker is a bird of flight. There are well over 200 species of woodpecker, and they are found on every continent except Antarctica and Australia.

Woodpeckers come in many shapes and sizes, but nearly all of them have stiff tail feathers used for balance when hanging off the sides of trees. All woodpeckers have strong, sharp beaks used for drumming on wood.

Woodpeckers make the characteristic pecking noise when searching for food, boring nest cavities into tree trunks, attracting mates, and marking territory. They may also bang on wood and other objects to try and scare away predators or anyone encroaching on their territory.

What Biome Does a Woodpecker Live In?

Woodpeckers prefer to live in deciduous forests in temperate regions around the world, but they can be found in a variety of habitats. They are often found in woodlands near water sources, grasslands, savannas, and even tropical rain forests.

What Are Some Interesting Facts About Woodpeckers?

  • Some woodpeckers store acorns for the winter like squirrels.
  • Most woodpeckers make their nest holes in the shape of a perfect circle, while others make it in the shape of a perfect oval. Their perfectionist tendency is unique in the animal kingdom.


Woodpeckers are impressive birds known for the hammering noises they make when searching for food or mates or performing other activities. If you want to learn even more about woodpeckers, check out the short video below.

If you’re looking for more information on woodpeckers, here is our guide on how to stop them (in a humane way) from pecking on your house; or the following one on how to build a feeder for them.

Read also about other forest birds – here are our guides about wren, cuckoo, eagle.

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