Woodpecker holes in beech

Title Info
Common name Woodpecker, Pileated
Scientific name Dryocopus pileatus
Taxonomic group Picidae
Source Dan L. Perlman
Ecosystems Forests
Forests Temperate deciduous forest
Nutrient cycles Decomposition
Ecological interactions Predation; Herbivory
Selection and adaptations Selection
Selection Morphology
Change over time Decomposition
Organisms Animals
Animals Birds
Date 2002
Location Massachusetts,USA,North America

Pileated woodpecker holes in live beech, Massachusetts. Pileated woodpeckers, the largest woodpeckers in North America, leave very distinct calling cards: fist-sized holes. The holes in this image were carved into a living tree, pecked bit by bit by one of these crow-sized woodpeckers. These birds clearly put a massive effort into excavating insect larvae from the tree, but no amount of effort would achieve these results unless natural selection had finely honed their anatomy and physiology to enable such a lifestyle. As a result of their work, the woodpeckers turn a living tree into wood chips on the forest floor, where they will decompose in a fraction of the time it would have taken them had the tree remained whole.