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BirdNote: No Pounding Headache

Paul Bannick

The Pileated Woodpecker makes loud, hard whacks, as it leans back and then slams its bill into the side of a living tree. Sounds painful, if not downright disabling!

How does the woodpecker's brain withstand it? All woodpeckers have an enlarged brain case, so the brain sits above the level of direct hammering impact. The skull's frontal bones - together with a set of muscles at the bill's base - act as a shock absorber.

Find your local Audubon chapter and learn more about birds.