Tails, Tufts, and Toes

The Downy Woodpeckers have been loving the vertical branch I attached to my deck.  It has been so enjoyable to watch them exploring it.  Since these lovely birds seem to be showing up rather frequently, I thought I’d share a few of their cool features.

These small Woodpeckers, like this male who showed up this afternoon, have incredibly strong tail feathers (as do other Woodpeckers) to help brace themselves on tree trunks. They also have two toes pointing forward and two pointing back that help them cling and climb.


If you look at this handsome fellow’s face, you’ll see that he has short tufts of stiff white feathers at the base of his beak.  These feathers help prevent wood chips and other debris from flying into his nostrils when he is drilling into trees.


Another interesting thing about these Woodpeckers is that they come with their very own set of safety goggles.  These birds have a third eyelid, which you can see in the picture below. (If you click on the picture, you can see the eyelid more clearly.) They close this lens when they are pecking at wood to help protect their eyes.


This lovely lady also dropped by for a visit and grabbed a bite to eat.  You can tell she is using her toes and tail to stay stable.


Downy’s are another one of those birds that I never get tired of seeing.


15 thoughts on “Tails, Tufts, and Toes

  1. Interesting information. Thanks for sharing. My woodpecker is now showing up on a regular basis too. I’m shocked as I’ve never had them before. Hope they have a family of little peckers and stay around.

    1. I can’t remember if you had a Red-headed or a Red-bellied that was showing up. Either way, they are beautiful birds. And your comment made me chuckle. 🙂

  2. Very interesting, Kathy. Some facts I knew, but others I didn’t. For example, I didn’t realize the little tufts under their beak had a specific purpose. Nature is amazing, isn’t it?

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