I watched this documentary for free at the link below (click on screenshot), and found it one of the best nature documentaries I’ve seen in a long time. It’s called “Woodpeckers: The Hole Story“, and features great biology and some fantastic video. Here’s a summary of the show from PBS:
Go deep into the woods to explore the lives of a unique avian family. Woodpeckers come in 239 species and live on every continent except Antarctica and Australia, playing a powerful role in every ecosystem they inhabit. They come in all shapes and sizes, each uniquely engineered for their particular lifestyles. Filmmaker Ann Johnson Prum (Nature: Super Hummingbirds) pecks away at what makes these birds so special through the intimate stories of woodpecker families across the world. Narrated by Paul Giamatti.
Black woodpeckers in Poland are elusive and have rarely been filmed. A pair of these large, imposing birds make a home in a beech tree, where they feed their hungry chicks.
Acorn woodpeckers love to collect acorns and “tattoo” them into the holes they create in trees. The acorns are woodpecker gold – high in vitamins, minerals, fats and protein. Placing these acorns into trees helps this food last throughout the winter.
Gila woodpeckers make their homes in cacti in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. After carving out the nest cavity in between the spines, the Gila must wait several months for the inner pulp to dry into a tough leathery casing before moving in.
I was intrigued to learn that there are 239 species of woodpeckers, that they all form a clade long diverged from other birds, and that every woodpecker bores out its own hole for resting and breeding. (Sometimes the holes are in vertical mud cliffs.)
Now it’s possible you might not be able to see it for free (I couldn’t this morning). But you can try. Or, you can definitely see it for free if you donate to PBS, even on a one-time basis. Do try, for this is definitely worth watching!
It reminded me of a rhyme I learned as a kid:
“The woopecker pecked at the old barn door;
He pecked and he pecked ’til his pecker got sore.”