Wonderful documentary on the world’s woodpeckers

December 1, 2022 • 10:15 am

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.

Buzzworthy Moments:

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.”

5 thoughts on “Wonderful documentary on the world’s woodpeckers

  1. “He pecked and he pecked ’til his pecker got sore.”

    Aren’t there antibiotics you can take for that?

    Asking for a friend.

  2. Jerry, you often feature woodpeckers. I hope in one posting soon you will be able to make space for a picture of the beautiful green woodpecker, which we have here in the UK. It’s the largest of the three UK woodpeckers. They often visit my garden, and I once had three together. They like the ants, easily obtained with their very long 4 inch tongues. In the West country (that’s Somerset, Devon etc) they call it the Yaffle.

    1. There is a fourth woodpecker species that occurs in the UK – the Wryneck Jynx torquilla. This species used to breed in Britain (though it was never common) but is now extinct as a breeding species. It still occurs as a scarce passage migrant.

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