Woodpeckers are among the most remarkable birds in the avian world, having evolved a unique anatomy that enables them to peck and bore into solid timber both to find food and to create nesting cavities. The birds are key indicators of forest health and perform an important ecological role, providing holes that many other animals use. Woodpeckers have been considered symbols of fertility, security, strength, power, prophecy, magic, rhythm, medicine, and carpentry, and have been esteemed across cultures as the guardians of woodlands, tree surgeons, fire-bringers, weather forecasters, and boat-builders.
In this charming volume, avian expert Gerard Gorman delves into the natural and cultural history of woodpeckers, exploring their origins and habitats and the ways they have fascinated humankind throughout history. Gorman finds woodpeckers everywhere—from ancient Babylon, Greece, and Rome, to the jungles of Amazonia and Borneo, to our modern-day Woody Woodpecker cartoon. Richly illustrated with images from both nature and culture, Woodpecker will appeal to everyone who is interested in these extraordinary birds.