The habi­tat of the wood­pecker

World of Animals - - All About Woodpeckers -

Trees are the most essen­tial en­vi­ron­men­tal fea­ture a wood­pecker looks for. Wood­land pro­vides mul­ti­ple food sources, a safe nest­ing site and cover from aerial preda­tors. As there are so many dif­fer­ent species, an enor­mous range of forests are im­por­tant to wood­peck­ers world­wide, from African sa­van­nah to bam­boo forests. Some species have very spe­cific needs, like the acorn wood­pecker. These birds live in large groups and hoard acorns from oak trees, de­fend­ing their food as a flock.

Dead or rot­ting trees are essen­tial for wood­peck­ers in Europe, but un­til the 1970s for­est man­agers would re­move fallen trees. Since then, de­cay­ing wood has been left to re­cy­cle its nu­tri­ents and har­bour in­sects for wood­peck­ers to eat.

Along with keep­ing in­sects un­der con­trol, wood­peck­ers pro­vide a free ho­tel ser­vice to other tree crea­tures. The hol­lows these birds ex­ca­vate pro­vide shel­ter to species that can’t drill once the wood­peck­ers have moved on. The dis­ap­pear­ance of wood­peck­ers would cause dev­as­ta­tion for a great num­ber of an­i­mals and trees.

Wood isn’t just for birds, how­ever. Humans use wood for all sorts of prod­ucts that are needed on a daily ba­sis. Even worse, some­times trees are re­moved to make way for other ac­tiv­i­ties. In the Ama­zon Rain­for­est, where wood­pecker di­ver­sity is at its peak, trees are rou­tinely torn out of the Earth to make way for land­scape-de­stroy­ing min­ing or to make room for low-cost cat­tle ranch­ing. As the hu­man pop­u­la­tion con­tin­ues to in­crease, we must be mind­ful about how we are treat­ing the en­vi­ron­ment, as it may soon be too late to take ac­tion. Wood­peck­ers are but one cog in the ma­chine of na­ture, and re­mov­ing even one species may have a stag­ger­ing ef­fect on the or­gan­isms that re­main be­hind.

“The dis­ap­pear­ance of wood­peck­ers would cause dev­as­ta­tion for an­i­mals and trees”

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