“They are architects, engineers, and consummate woodworkers.”
Woodpeckers don’t sing, but they have an unmistakable voice. They live on every continent except Antarctica and Australia and are surprisingly adaptive to extreme temperatures and climate change. Their lineage is ancient, their coloring and markings are distinctive, and some are among the largest birds on the planet.
Woodpeckers breed and feed in compact, finely chiseled holes that their hammerlike heads and sharp beaks drill in the trunks of dead or dying trees, cacti and clay hills. Their big feet, sharp claws and short legs assure their remarkable leverage on vertical terrain. And after their baby chicks spread their wings and fly away, and mom and dad move on, they leave behind hospitable holes for their nesting and feeding wildlife cronies. In short, woodpeckers are a boon to the ecosystem wherever they choose to settle and socialize.
If you find these tidbits tantalizing, you won’t want to miss Woodpeckers: The Hole Story, a fascinating new episode of the award-winning PBS Nature series, debuting tonight, Wednesday, November 2, 2022, 8:00 – 9:00 pm/ET. Check local listings for air dates in your region. It will also stream simultaneously with broadcast (see below for details).
Wildlife filmmaker Ann Johnson Prum (Super Hummingbirds) and her extraordinary team of nature and wildlife photographers pull out all the stops as they travel to many corners of the globe in search of some of the most enterprising and elusive woodpecker species. There are 239 species of woodpeckers worldwide.
Among those featured by Prum and her crew are the dramatically coifed and suited Pileated Woodpecker; the large elusive Polish Black Woodpecker; the enterprising foodie Acorn Woodpecker; Lewis’s Woodpecker, named for its home in the region explored by Lewis and Clark; the Sonoran Desert Cacti-dwelling Gila Woodpecker; the super winterized Downy Woodpecker and, yes, even the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker! The latter shares its larder with Hummingbirds and bees. Who knew?
“Everybody thinks I’m crazy. Yesiree, that’s me. That’s what I’m cracked up to be. I chop a hole in every tree. Knock on wood.”–Woody Woodpecker.
So if you thought that wacky Woody Woodpecker was the species’ last best hope, think again! I encourage you to watch Woodpeckers: The Hole Story for a birds-eye view of the real thing, narrated with flair by one of my favorite actors, Paul (“John Adams”; “Billions”) Giamatti. I, for one, intend to keep my eyes and ears open for these remarkable feathered “architects, engineers and woodworkers” should they pay a visit to my bird friendly garden and spa…aka birdbath!
Woodpeckers: The Hole Story, written by Janet Hess and executive produced by Fred Kaufman, is a production of The WNET Group, Blue Ant Media and Coneflower Productions for Love Nature. The film premieres on the PBS Nature series tonight, Wednesday, November 2, 2022, 8:00 – 9:00 pm/ET.
Check local listings for air dates in your region. It will also stream simultaneously with broadcast on all station-branded PBS platforms, including http://PBS.org , the PBS Video App and for PBS members via PBS Passport. Contact ShopPBS.org for DVDs. Check streaming availability on Amazon Prime Video, YouTube and via iOS, Android, Roku streaming devices, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO. Be sure not to miss it!!— Judith Trojan