When you hear that distinctive knocking in the woods, you know a woodpecker is nearby. Woodpeckers peck at trees with impressive force. This behavior helps woodpeckers chisel away at tree trunks to unearth tasty insects or sap. Some woodpeckers even use their pecking skills to jam acorns into tree trunks for safekeeping. Rhythmic pecking also helps many woodpeckers keep in touch and coordinate with mates.

But how do they avoid brain injury? Join Professor Lorna Gibson of MIT on her mission to find out. This 8 part series, co-produced by Caitlin Stier, Lorna Gibson and Douglass McLean, is from the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) MITx 3.054x.

For more on the topic: Gibson, L.J., Woodpecker Pecking: How Woodpeckers Avoid Brain Injury, Journal of Zoology, 2006.