Friday, April 11, 2008

Giant Beak Woodpecker

A beak that is more than twice the normal size has taken a North Yorkshire woodpecker to the top of the pecking order.
Ornithologists said they were surprised the great spotted woodpecker could fly, let alone feed, because of the size of its bill.
The woodpecker was seen by Janet and Bob Morton in the garden of their home near Pickering. They named him Woody, after the cartoon character.
"We just couldn't believe how big his beak was," 62-year-old Bob Morton told the Daily Mail.
"Woody comes by every day now - you can't miss him. We first noticed the beak at Christmas when he arrived with a female and a baby."
Tony Richardson, of the RSPB, said the woodpecker had a "serious beak deformity".
"It's probably 120% bigger than it should be," he said. "A beak grows much like hair and nails on a human, but natural wear and tear should keep it in check.
"Many birds wouldn't be able to survive with this handicap - but luckily woodpeckers have enormous tongues, so this one is still able to gather food."
Woodpeckers use their beaks to chisel away bark to get at grubs or hollow out old wood to make a nest hole.
Their tongues are at least three times the length of their bills.

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