WOODCHOPPER IN THE TREE
Dat-dat-dat-dat! It's one of the most distinctive sounds in the forest. Most who hear it feel compelled to find the woodpecker hammering away at a branch to extract a juicy meal with its long pointed tongue—perhaps a small insect or larva under the bark of a rotting tree. Of the 13 woodpecker species living year-round in Canada, the Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) is the smallest and most familiar. At just 14-17 cm (6-7 in), it can excavate a nest cavity in a dead tree just 10 cm (4 in) around. This gives the Downy more habitat options than larger woodpeckers that need bigger trees, and it often nests in suburban woods across southern Canada. The Downy can survive a life-time of hammering because its strong, chisel-shaped beak, spongy skull structure and strong neck muscles absorb the force of the blows. Even its nostrils are covered with feathers to avoid inhaling sawdust. Watch for a flash of red on the back of the head when you locate that tell-tale dat-dat-dat —it's a sure sign that a male Downy has just come into view.
Face Value: 25 cents
Composition: Nickel plated steel
Weight (g): 12.61
Diameter (mm): 35
- Beautiful full-colour painted design of one of thirteen of Canada’s species of woodpeckers.
- This theme is featured in the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s ‘wildly’ popular Hinterland Who’s Who program.