Woody Woodpecker

Great Spotted Woodpecker, JapanLike all woodpeckers the great spotted woodpecker has two toes pointing forward and two toes pointing backwards, which enable them to hop easily up and down tree trunks looking for insects just under the bark. This still from an NHNZ Images film was shot in Japan but could just as easily have been shot anywhere through northern Asia and Europe, as great spotted woodpeckers are widely distributed.

Their characteristic drumming noise can be heard from a great distance. It is caused by repeated strong taps of the beak on branch or tree trunk, and is made by either male or female birds. It is both a method of locating insect prey within the tree, and as a territorial marker for other great spotted woodpeckers in the neighbourhood.

As to the cartoon character, Wikipedia has the following to say about its origins "...the idea for Woody came during the producer's honeymoon with his wife, Gracie, in Sherwood Lake, California. A noisy woodpecker outside their cabin kept the couple awake at night, and when a heavy rain started, they learned that the bird had bored holes in their cabin's roof." It wouldn't have been a great spotted woodpecker as they aren't found in North America, never mind a bit of poetic licence with tthe title of this post is surely allowed.

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