There are are 59 species of woodpeckers in Brazil, 11 of which are at Mamirauá Reserve.
Spot-breasted woodpecker (Colaptes punctigula)
Eternalized by the cartoon, the woodpeckers (Picidae family) are really colorful birds and why not, ingenious.
After all, it takes ingenuity to hit the tree trunk 22 times a second and leave without physical injuries, not even a little headache. The structure of the skull of a woodpecker is truly extraordinary, serving as a model for the development of technologies to absorb impacts. First, there is the well reinforced beak (strong, but also flexible so that it does not break or bend) which if used at the correct angle, perpendicular to the wood, greatly reduces the impact from the beginning. Second, the hyoid bone (which in humans is small and known as the tongue-bone) is very developed and surrounds the entire skull of the bird, and also has a piece of elastic tissue that joins the tongue. Finally, there is the presence of spongy bones and cerebrospinal fluid (in a space between the skull and the brain) that act as an anti-shock barrier, preventing vibrations from reaching the brain.
Another adaptation to be able to peck at the trunks with greater tranquility are the modified tail feathers, which acts as a third leg, providing balance when the bird is stopped and also facilitates climbing.
Spot-breasted woodpecker (Celeus flavus)
Tree pecking can have different functions. One is the construction of nests. The best known is for food, with the beak, the woodpeckers probe the cavities looking for insects and their larvae, when they find it, they use the long tongue and with structures that resemble small barbs to hook the food. The third function is communication for the defense of territory: the bird pecks at a hollow tree trunk producing a loud sound known as drumming, and it is this behavior that seems to have inspired the famous laugh of the character Woodpecker. Woodpeckers also communicate, mainly between partners, through their own vocalizations (most strident).
Ringed woodpecker (Celeus torquatus)
In Brazil we found 59 species of woodpeckers, 11 of which are in Mamirauá. Some are endemic to the northern region of South America and / or the Amazon, such as the Amazonian Woodpecker (Picumnus lafresnayi). Here the local guides are always attentive to the sounds of the forest and hardly a woodpecker goes unnoticed. During the flight it is also possible to identify the larger individuals that have a wavy pattern when wandering through the air.
Credits (Imagens and text): Cynthia Lebrão