Wednesday, June 02, 2010

M. Erythrocephalus


A few weeks ago I spotted this eyecatching woodpecker on a snag overlooking the marshland in a local county park while walking the marsh's edge and watching a resident beaver eat the leaves of the water lily plant in the marsh.  Spring was well on its way and the marsh land was a stunning lime green in the angles of the golden sun.  I looked up at the brilliant blue sky and this fellow was very easy to spot even without a bird call.


These redheaded woodpeckers eat both meat and plants but they do like their meat fresh.  According to the Cornell bird site this fellow will store live grasshoppers by wedging them in the wood so that they cannot escape before he decides to eat them.  Sounds like some horror movie!  He also is a robber of nests and killer of the eggs inside.  A real horror movie lead.


A little fact you may not know is that these woodpeckers have an exceptionally long tongue, up to 2/3 longer than their bill.  This tongue is used as the padding around their brain to prevent concussive damage when they are hammering away at that hard old tree.  I wonder if Darwin knew this?  I must search to see if I can find an anatomical diagram of this.

8 comments:

Brian Miller said...

i knew they had long tongues, but to pad the brain? did not know that...a cool looking bird though...

Dave King said...

Why does such a wonderful bird have to have a name like a fatal disease, I wonder.

TSannie said...

It's good to learn at least one new fact a day! Even the not-so-nice ones - I'm actually feeling a bit sorry for the grasshoppers!
I don't think I've ever seen this particular woodpecker - he's a beauty! What's his common name?

TSannie said...

Just googled and found out he's called a Red-headed Woodpecker. Duh!

sheri... said...

tabor, i love the photo of the woodpecker but knowing some of his background made him that much more marvelous! it's going to take awhile before i can get the picture of live grasshoppers trying to escape from their shackles, tho!! your post was lovely, almost felt like i was walking right along with you in such a beautiful place...thanks so much for sharing :)

slommler said...

Yeow!! A live meat eater!!! Yikes! What images that are now stuck in my head!
He is a real beauty though
Hugs
SueAnn

Hilary said...

Great shot of a beautiful bird. I'm feeling for those grasshoppers though.

Entangled said...

Ha, I was going to write what Dave wrote. I've never seen a red-headed woodpecker except in pictures, but this is a very nice picture ;-) And that's a fascinating detail about the tongue - I wonder if other woodpeckers have the same?