Rufous-bellied Woodpecker (Dendrocopos hyperythrus) by Nikhil Devasar
When I Consider!
Evidence From Biology
Consider the probability of all of the following characteristics evolving simultaneously into an effectively functioning system in the woodpecker:
1. Its beak is connected to its skull with a resilient shock-absorbing tissue that is not found in any other bird.
2. The beak is much harder than the beaks of other birds, enabling it to bang away a hundred times a minute without hurting itself.
3. The tongue is barbed in most of the 200+ species and is about four times longer than the beak. In certain species the tongue wraps around the back of the bird’s skull, enabling it to reach deep into tree trunks and remove insects.
4. A sticky coating on some woodpecker tongues helps them grab insects.
5. Its tail feathers are constructed so that they are stiff enough to help brace against trees as it climbs.
6. Its keen senses of smell and hearing help detect insects crawling around under the bark of the trees.
7. It short legs and powerful claws are uniquely designed to help it climb tree trunks.
The engineering behind such a technological wonder as the woodpecker boggles our minds. Try to imagine the obstacles the first bird, which was trying to turn into a woodpecker, would have had to overcome!
The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing. The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. (Psalms 145:15-17 KJV)
From A Closer Look at the Evidence by Kleiss, November 6.
“The woodpeckers, piculets and wrynecks are a family, Picidae, of near-passerine birds. Members of this family are found worldwide, except for Australia and New Zealand, Madagascar, and the extreme polar regions. Most species live in forests or woodland habitats, although a few species are known to live in treeless areas such as rocky hillsides and deserts.
The Picidae are just one of the eight living families in the order Piciformes. Members of the order Piciformes, such as the jacamars, puffbirds, barbets, (also Asian and African barbets), toucans and honeyguides, have traditionally been thought to be very closely related to the woodpeckers, piculets and wrynecks. More recently, DNA sequence analyzes have confirmed this view.”
“Members of the family Picidae have strong bills for drilling and drumming on trees and long sticky tongues for extracting food. Woodpecker bills are typically longer, sharper and stronger than the bills of piculets and wrynecks; however their morphology is very similar. The bill’s chisel-like tip is kept sharp by the pecking action in birds that regularly use it on wood. Species of woodpecker and flicker that use their bills in soil or for probing as opposed to regular hammering tend to have longer and more decurved bills. Due to their smaller bill size, many piculets and wrynecks will forage in decaying wood more often than woodpeckers. The long sticky tongues, which possess bristles, aid these birds in grabbing and extracting insects deep within a hole of a tree. It had been reported that the tongue was used to spear grubs, but more detailed studies published in 2004 have shown that the tongue instead wraps around the prey before being pulled out.
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus) by Reinier Munguia
“The diet of woodpeckers consists mainly of insects and their grubs taken from living and dead trees, and other arthropods, along with fruit from live trees, nuts and sap both from live trees. Their role ecologically is thereby keeping trees healthy by keeping them from suffering mass infestations.The family is noted for its ability to acquire wood-boring grubs using their bills for hammering, but overall the family is characterized by its dietary flexibility, with many species being both highly omnivorous and opportunistic. The insect prey most commonly taken are insects found inside tree trunks, whether they are alive or rotten wood and in crevices in bark on trees. These include beetles and their grubs, ants, termites, spiders,and caterpillars. These may be obtained either by gleaning or more famously by excavating wood. Having hammered a hole into the wood the prey is excavated by a long barbed tongue. The ability to excavate allows woodpeckers to obtain tree sap, an important source of food for some species. Most famously the sapsuckers, (genus Sphyrapicus ) feed in this fashion, but the technique is not restricted to these and others such as the Acorn Woodpecker also feed in this way. It was once thought that the technique was restricted to the New World, but Old World species such as the Arabian Woodpecker and Great Spotted Woodpecker also feed in this way.”Wikipedia”
When I Consider! – Woodpecker and Bones