Let’s Talk About Woodpecker Feet
I see downy woodpeckers on a daily basis. They seem to love my neighborhood and can be seen and heard pecking away on the trees around here all year round. I enjoy observing downy woodpeckers, but I confess I love seeing less-usual-around-here birds more, so the other day when I saw a pileated woodpecker on an old evergreen tree in my neighborhood, I was thrilled. I was able to watch it for a while as it worked the tree trunk over, diligently hunting for its dinner.
Woodpeckers have many special features to their anatomy, but I thought I would focus on their feet in my post today.
Woodpeckers have zygodactyl feet, which means they have two pairs of toes on each foot. One pair of toes faces forward. One pair faces backward. Woodpeckers are not the only birds with zygodactyl feet. Parrots are another example of birds with this type of toe arrangement.
Zygodactyl feet are great for birds who spend their time hopping up, down, and across tree trunks. The toe arrangement of this kind of foot is also good for clinging to bark while a woodpecker pecks away, looking for delicious insects to eat.