Woodpeckers: Master Excavators of Oakland County

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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Adult male Pileated Woodpecker searches for bugs and beetles in a dead Oakland County tree

Winged, wood-whacking, carpenters have been practicing their craft all spring. Evidence of their excavation skills is abundant, but sometimes almost hidden in plain sight. Contrary to myth, woodpeckers do not get headaches from banging away on a tree, a telephone pole, or the wood siding of a home. These master craftsmen have evolved powerful neck muscles, thick skulls and chisel-like bills that let them chip away at tree trunks with ease as they search out bugs, or create the perfect nesting cavity. Woodpeckers have a special skull bone, the hyoid bone, which functions a bit like a seat-belt for their brain. Their hyoid bone design diverts impact and vibrations away from the cranium and the woodpecker pounds on, free from headaches.

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AMERICAN GOLDFINCH: Adapting for Survival & Late Summer Nesting

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

IMG_6932On a desert island in the heart of the Galapagos archipelago, Darwin received his first inklings of the theory of evolution by observing the variations of finch beaks. His awareness led to later confirmations that through the process of evolution and natural selection, species physically change and adapt to the landscape they inhabit. This endless process of evolutionary change, or survival of the fittest, continues today. (The Beak of the Finch by Jonathan Weiner presents an exciting and compelling modern day look back at the process of evolution, a process that is neither rare nor slow and is never ending.) Continue reading