(Kevin McGowan) Woodpeckers! You’ve probably seen a woodpecker before, but have you ever really thought
about the things they do?

Like how they defy gravity by perching on the sides of trees?

Or how their peck, peck, pecking echoes through the forest?

And what about how they rule the world of wood, chiseling into trees with no tools but their beaks? How do they do that?

Hi, I’m Kevin McGowan. In this self-paced, online course, we’ll explore how woodpeckers drill
into wood for food and the amazing adaptations that make this foraging strategy possible.

(baby bird vocalizing)

We’ll dive into the family life of woodpeckers and how they communicate with each other.

(woodpecker drumming)

And we’ll discover the diversity of woodpeckers around the world, as well as the surprisingly important role woodpeckers play in their environment.

I hope you’ll join me for this course, so you can see just how incredible woodpeckers really are.


End of transcript

Your Guide to the Fascinating World of Woodpeckers

There’s so much to explore—from the incredible adaptations that enable woodpeckers to carve through wood to the intricacies of woodpecker communication.

  • Meet weird and wonderful species from around the globe
  • Learn about woodpeckers' unique anatomy
  • Explore how and why woodpeckers peck
  • Get inside the nests and family lives of woodpeckers

The Wonderful World of Woodpeckers

Enroll Now
About This Course
  • Lessons inside: 5
  • Topics inside: 21
  • Completion time (estimated): 3 hours
  • Instructional videos: 10
  • Level: Beginner
  • Categories: Bird Biology, Nature Appreciation
  • Regionality: Anywhere – Non-regional
  • Discussion groups to keep you learning
  • Self-paced, no expiration date, 100% online
  • 60-day refund guarantee
A grid of four woodpeckers with yellow crests
Woodpeckers with yellow crests: Greater Yellownape, Chestnut Woodpecker, Blond-crested Woodpecker and Golden-cheeked Woodpecker

Why I Made This Course

"Woodpeckers are a worldwide phenomenon and a delight for bird enthusiasts. More than two hundred species practice their formidable woodworking skills across the globe, except in a few places. To me, woodpeckers have some of the most remarkable adaptations in the bird world, so I made this course to share their wonderful diversity, exquisite anatomy, and surprising behaviors with you!"

—Kevin McGowan, Ph.D., Course Instructor
Two woodpeckers with red heads, one on tree and one in flight
Image: Phil Harvey | Macaulay Library
Red-headed Woodpecker pair at a nest cavity

What's Inside

Designed to feed your curiosity and build your bird knowledge, this course is based on our popular Wonderful World series. You’ll benefit from 10 instructional videos, as well as interactive learning tools, case studies, photo and audio galleries, and optional discussion boards. You’ll never think about woodpeckers the same way again.

Take a Peek Inside the Course

Preview exciting video and interactive content from the Wonderful World of Woodpeckers.

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Course Overview

Lesson 1:
What Makes a Woodpecker a Woodpecker

Explore the stunning worldwide diversity of woodpeckers. Discover our picks for exceptional woodpeckers, and ponder why some species look so much alike.

Lesson 2:
How Woodpeckers Rule the World of Wood

From how they peck to their amazing tongues, learn about the physical adaptations that have helped woodpeckers own their niche around the world.

Lesson 3:
The Life of Woodpeckers

Get an inside look at the life of woodpeckers, from how they communicate and raise their young, to their surprisingly broad range of feeding habits and food choices.

Lesson 4:
How Woodpeckers Shape Our Forests

Delve into how woodpeckers shape their forest environments and how other animals benefit from their woodworking skills.

Lesson 5:
Finding and Connecting with Woodpeckers

Learn how to find and observe woodpeckers, examine their relationship with people over the centuries, and discover tips for how to help woodpeckers in your area.

Meet the Course Instructor

Kevin McGowan, Ph.D.
Professional Ornithologist, World Series of Birding Champion
Course instructor Kevin McGowan combines deep knowledge about birds with a passion for helping others learn. He is a professional ornithologist at...
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Satisfaction Guarantee

Our educators and birding experts take pride in the courses they create. If you're not satisfied with the material for ANY reason, contact us within 60 days of the start of the course or purchase for a full refund.

Alternative Course Access

Birds can inspire people accross boundaries to build a more sustainable world. At Bird Academy we want to share the love and knowledge of birds! If you would like alternative access to this course, please take a look at our Take Flight Program

Woodpecker with acorn in its mouth
Image: Andres Vasquez Noboa | Macaulay Library
Acorn Woodpecker, with an acorn!

This Course is Entirely Online

There’s nothing to be shipped, and no additional material is necessary. Bird Academy courses are online, self-paced, and have no deadline to complete the course. You can return to them for reference or practice as often as you want. All course material, practice tools, instructional videos, and discussions are available through your web browser. Learn anytime, anywhere.* Gain the skills and understanding you’re looking for.

*Requires an internet connection and a modern web browser.

Course Author and Instructor: Kevin McGowan
Course Developers: Marla Coppolino and Jill Leichter
Executive Producers: Shayna Muller and Mya Thompson
Video Producer: Shayna Muller
Video Editor: Chris Foito
Studio Producers: Gary Bain and Amanda Ryan, eCornell
Illustration: Marla Coppolino and Maria Klos
Graphic Design: Jill Leichter
Student Support: Lee Ann van Leer and Connie Kintner
Administrative support: Rachel England
Platform Infrastructure: Jeff Szuc, Frances Steen, Josh
Marketing and Promotion: Katherine Welch, Bobby Stickel, Brittany Barbato
Special Thanks: Laura Helft, Tayler Brooks, Vera Ting, Jillian Ditner, Andrew Stillman, Macaulay Library and eBird contributors

Yellow Crests Collage Credits:
Greater Yellownape: Ayuwat Jearwattanakanok/Macaulay Library
Chestnut Woodpecker: Simon van der Meulen/Macaulay Library
Blond-crested Woodpecker: Claudia Brasileiro/Macaulay Library
Golden-cheeked Woodpecker: Don Danko/Macaulay Library

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