Spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)
The spotted woodpecker is our most frequent species of woodpeckers. In nearly every forest one may hear his strong drumming, which is mostly performed on thick, resonant branches. Drumming sequences usually consists of 10 – 15 hits and last from a half to one second. Woodpeckers drum to communicate with conspecifics. While blackbird, thrush, finch or starling sing, woodpecker use drumming as a signal. Drumming means: “This is my territory“ or: „I am looking for a partner“. Busy woodpeckers hammer the wood with their bills up to 12000 times a day. Every beat is like a strike with 25 km/h without braking against a wall. So why the hell do they not get a headache from all this? First, their brain is covered with very little brain liquid and is anchored very stable in the skull, further they have very strong muscles which surround the klull, thereby the impact of the shockwaves which develop while drumming, do not allow the brain to collide against the inner skull. Similar to a boxer, who sees the approaching punch, the muscles of the woodpecker contract shortly before the impact on the wood and so absorb the biggest part of energy. A woodpecker additionally closes his eyes one millisecond before the strike and so protects them against flying small wood chips.