Woodpeckers: Drilling Holes and Bagging Bugs

Sneed Collard's latest book is a fun, funny and fact-filled ode to members of the Picidae family

Books & Writers
Woodpeckers: Drilling Holes and Bagging Bugs
Missoula author Sneed Collard’s latest book for young readers offers a plethora of woodpecker facts and photos.

“If something stands on the side of a tree, banging its head against the trunk,” you can be pretty certain you’ve spotted the subject of Sneed Collard’s latest book. Or so says Dick Hutto, an expert on woodpeckers.

This fun, funny and fact-filled ode to members of the Picidae family is packed with fascinating details. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • A woodpecker’s beak can strike wood at more than 15 miles per hour, which leads to the observation that these busy birds have “super cool adaptations” to keep from injuring their bodies and brains.
  • Woodpeckers are also equipped with tongues twice as long at their bills, and sticky too, with little barbs that help them snag all those delectable bugs residing in dead or sick trees.
  • Although they call and sing, like most birds, woodpeckers also have distinctive drumming patterns that are “species specific” according to Hutto, and used to attract mates and ward off competitors. Northern Flickers, writes Collard, “sound like rock stars at the Bird-a-Palooza Outdoor Music Festival.”
  • These amazing birds score high marks for parenting, notes the author, with couples working together to carve out a nest hole, protect eggs and hatchlings and feed them.

In addition to the 22 species that live in the U.S. and Canada (Collard identifies the ones we’re most apt to see), the author also includes photographs of four species of woodpeckers that he and his son, Braden, saw during a trip to Ecuador and Peru.

Collard and Braden recently launched a blog at FatherSonBirding.com. “We started it because I’ve got about four bird-related books in the pipeline and his photography plays a big role in them, so why not?” explains Collard.

The prolific writer already has more than 80 books to his credit and several awards to accompany them. Learn more at www.sneedcollardiii.com.

– Kristi Niemeyer