For STEM Friday, we have a brand new middle grade title, Woodpeckers: Drilling Holes and Bagging Bugsby Sneed B. Collard III.
An overview of the twenty-two different species of woodpeckers found in North America, it covers what woodpeckers eat, where they live, and reveals many of their unique behaviors.
If you’ve never read a book by acclaimed science author Sneed B. Collard III, reading Woodpeckers will send you searching for more of his titles. First of all, he and his son (at fourteen years old!) traveled around North America and took the majority of the stunning color photographs in the book. That alone shows their knowledge about and passion for their subjects. Add the fun, conversational tone of the text — sprinkled with quotes from woodpecker experts — and you have one amazing book!
In the back matter is a fun two-paged spread of “Woodpecker Photo Bloopers” where Sneed Collard shows all the ways that nature photography can go awry. It is a great section because it reminds us that for every prize-worthy photograph we see, there are hundreds that aren’t stunning at all.
Woodpeckers is as chock full of information about these fascinating birds as an acorn woodpecker’s tree is full of acorns. Recommended for nature lovers of all ages.
Activities to Accompany the Book
Activity 1. Learn About Your Local Woodpeckers
Take some time to discover what kind of woodpeckers live near you. A good place to start is the All About Birds Identification Website.
Where I grew up, we often saw downy and hairy woodpeckers on bird feeders in the winter, particularly if we provided suet. These are relatively quiet, small birds. They are black and white with only a few red feathers. You can see more about them at Woodpeckers of Western New York.
When I moved to Arizona, we took a trip to Madera Canyon. On the very first day we saw some noisy, active woodpeckers with bright red heads. They couldn’t be more different than those I was used to.
We soon learned they were acorn woodpeckers.
Photograph of acorn woodpecker from Madera Canyon, Arizona by Alan D. Wilson, retrieved from Wikimedia
Acorn woodpeckers pick acorns off of oak trees, using their beaks. They store the acorns in holes they peck in trees, electric poles, or even the sides of the cabin where we stayed. Later, when acorn season is past, they go back to their stores and pull them out to eat.
Watching acorn woodpeckers work was incredibly entertaining. You can get an idea in the following video:
Encourage older children to take photographs of woodpeckers like Marie Read (in the video) or the Collards did. It is a good way to study woodpeckers more closely.
2. Make a woodpecker feeder
Many types of woodpeckers will visit suet (animal fat) or peanut butter feeders. Simply drill some holes in a round piece of wood and stuff the peanut butter or suet in. Hang the wood from a tree branch or pole where it is only accessible by birds.
Note: Peanut butter or suet can deteriorate or become rancid when it is warm, so provide it in the winter and clean the feeder regularly.
See more suggestions for making bird feeders on my Pinterest Board
- Sneed and Braden Collard now have a blog, Father and Son Birding
- Extensive discussion of Woodpeckers with instructional tips by Six Trait Gurus
- Previous titles by Sneed B. Collard III reviewed here at Growing With Science: Insects, Hopping Ahead of Climate Change (snowshoe hares), Fire Birds, and Lizards
Publisher: Bucking Horse Books (April 1, 2018)
We’ve added this title to our growing list of children’s books for young birdwatchers at Science Books for Kids.
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