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Any of about 180 species (family Picidae) of mostly nonmigratory, solitary birds found nearly worldwide. Woodpeckers spiral up tree trunks, probing for insects, and chisel nest holes in dead wood by means of rapidly repeating blows of the beak. Though they spend their entire life in trees, only the few ground-feeding species can perch. Some species eat fruits and berries or tree sap. Woodpeckers are usually silent, except in spring, when males call loudly and drum on hollow wood. Species range from 6 to 18 in. (15 to 46 cm) long. All have a straight, chisel-like bill, and most are patterned in black, white, or yellow and bright colours. See alsoflicker; ivory-billed woodpecker; sapsucker.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on woodpecker, visit Britannica.com.