There are around 200 species of woodpecker inhabiting the forests and woodlands worldwide. Woodpeckers are found on every continent with the exception of the polar regions, Australia and Madagascar.
The smallest species of woodpecker is the Bar-breasted Piculet that only grows to 8cm in height. The Gray Slaty woodpecker from south east Asia is the largest living woodpecker in the world with some of these woodpecker individuals growing to nearly 60 cm tall.
The woodpecker has a distinctive long beak, which the woodpecker uses to make holes in trees. The woodpecker does this in order to dig out the grubs living under the bark.
The average woodpecker is able to peck up to 20 pecks per second! The woodpecker is only able to peck so much and move it's head so quickly without getting a headache due to the air pockets that help to cushion the woodpecker's brain.
Woodpeckers are omnivorous birds and feed on a mixture of plants and animals (mainly insects). The woodpecker eats seeds, berries, fruits, nuts and bugs but the exact species of the woodpecker's food depends upon the area which the woodpecker inhabits.
Due to their generally small size, woodpeckers have numerous predators in their natural environment that not only prey upon the woodpecker itself but also the woodpecker's eggs. The main predators of the woodpecker include wild cats, foxes, rats. snakes and large birds although many other species of animal will prey on the woodpecker too.
Most species of woodpecker inhabit forest and woodland areas although oddly enough, there are a few species of woodpecker that live in areas such as deserts and on hillsides, where there are no trees at all. These few woodpecker species still behave in a similar way and nest in holes in rocks and in plants such as cacti.
Many of the 200 species of woodpecker on Earth, are today considered to be threatened or endangered animals. This is mainly due to the deforestation that is occurring on mass across the world, meaning that woodpeckers are losing their homes.
Woodpeckers often have quite brightly coloured feathers although the exact colours of the woodpecker's feather depend on the woodpecker species. The brightly coloured feathers of the woodpecker which are often greens, browns, whites, reds and greys, help the woodpecker to camouflage more effectively into the surrounding forest.
Woodpeckers make their nests in trees and excavate the hole themselves. Woodpeckers do not usually line the nest as the wood chippings that are there from when the woodpecker made the hole, act as a soft lining. The female woodpecker lays between 3 and 5 eggs that hatch after an incubation period of just a couple of weeks. The woodpecker chicks usually leave the nest when they are about a month old. Both the female woodpecker and the male woodpecker actively feed and raise the young, incubate the eggs and make the hole for the nest.