wood·​peck·​er | \ ˈwu̇d-ˌpe-kər How to pronounce woodpecker (audio) \

Definition of woodpecker

: any of numerous birds (family Picidae) with zygodactyl feet, stiff spiny tail feathers used in climbing or resting on tree trunks, a usually extensible tongue, a very hard bill used to drill the bark or wood of trees for insect food or to excavate nesting cavities, and generally showy parti-colored plumage

Illustration of woodpecker

Illustration of woodpecker

Examples of woodpecker in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Enlarge / Black woodpecker that was filmed for the study, photographed at Alpenzoo Innbruck, Austria. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 15 July 2022 The notion that the woodpecker head primarily needs to be a functional hammer made sense to me. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 15 July 2022 Because a woodpecker’s brain and eye are jammed closely together with little room for movement, researchers tracked the eye to analyze how the birds’ brain moved, per the Atlantic’s Ed Yong. Margaret Osborne, Smithsonian Magazine, 18 July 2022 The bird was once common across the Southeast, including Alabama, but hunting and habitat loss drove the majestic woodpecker nearly -- or perhaps completely -- to extinction, beginning in the early 1800s. Dennis Pillion | Dpillion@al.com, al, 15 July 2022 There’s just one problem: As Van Wassenbergh and his colleagues have now shown, woodpecker heads don’t absorb shocks at all. Ed Yong, The Atlantic, 14 July 2022 The woodpecker is back, hammering the gutter above my bedroom window every dawn in a staccato that reverberates through my morning fog louder than last night’s burgundy. Washington Post, 3 Mar. 2022 Other species to watch for include Arizona woodpecker, whiskered screech owl and Hutton’s vireo. Roger Naylor, The Arizona Republic, 21 Mar. 2022 Typically, this level of woodpecker drilling would be secondary to what is killing the trees and is not necessarily a direct cause of the tree’s decline. oregonlive, 3 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'woodpecker.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of woodpecker

circa 1530, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for woodpecker

Time Traveler

The first known use of woodpecker was circa 1530

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Dictionary Entries Near woodpecker

wood pea


wood pewee

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Statistics for woodpecker

Last Updated

15 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Woodpecker.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/woodpecker. Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for woodpecker


wood·​peck·​er | \ ˈwu̇d-ˌpe-kər How to pronounce woodpecker (audio) \

Kids Definition of woodpecker

: a bird that climbs trees and drills holes in them with its bill in search of insects

More from Merriam-Webster on woodpecker

Nglish: Translation of woodpecker for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about woodpecker


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