1. Nils Ross says

    You’ve actually been waiting for a photograph like this so you can use that pun, haven’t you? :-)

  2. LisaJ says

    This really reminds me of the nature of my relationship with my brother when we were young. Oh, when will these crazy kids learn to get along?!

  3. Tiranna says

    Many thoughts came to mind, the lasting one, oddly enough, is “how long will it stretch until one of two foreseeable things happen?”

  4. Wowbagger says

    That’s a yellow shafted northern flicker on the left, and a redheaded woodpecker on the right…and the flicker has got its claws on the woodpecker’s tongue. I call foul!

    Oh, I’d say it’s the woodpecker who’s shafted…

  5. says

    So which one is the nice dog-worshipping creatin and which one is teh baby-eating gay nazi commie atheist mooslin evilutionista?

  6. Aquaria says

    I could have used one of these flickers a couple of years ago when I was working graveyard. Wouldn’t you know it, that’s when a woodpecker set up shop right outside my damned window. All day long–tap tap tap. Tap tap tap. I was ready to go out there and strangle him.

  7. says

    “All day long–tap tap tap. Tap tap tap. I was ready to go out there and strangle him.”

    Count your blessings. It could have been a raven tapping evermore.

  8. says

    I see Northern Flickers out here in CA every once in a while. They’re so gorgeous, it’s tempting to think that they’re really gentle and kind as well. But every wild animal is wild, and mean. It’s a game of survival out there.

  9. Ragutis says

    Wait! I’ve seen this one! The flicker lets go and the tongue rolls up like a windowshade and the woodpecker’s eyes bulge out with an “ayooogah” sound! ;)

    They do have some wonderful wallpapers over there. I’ve spent a few hours there going through them before. I’m tempted to do so again, but I just grabbed one from “Lesbian Vampire Killers” earlier.

  10. Pony says

    Sorry to be completely OT, but something just died over at

    And by something, I mean the website.

  11. Levi in NY says

    On a semi-related note, can anyone tell me how they got away with naming a children’s cartoon character Woody Woodpecker?

  12. Bone Oboe says

    Yellow Flicker+Red Headed Woodpecker=Orange Peckerflickers?
    I’ve been hit by birds trying to drive me away from nesting areas. Hit about the face and head. But an Orange Peckerflicker….whew! No thanks, I’ll not tangle with the likes of them. The only consolation myself and others received was the fact that the nesting area happened to be large plaza at a busy SoCal mall. Late spring early summer the trees in the plaza would fill with nesting birds. The birds would attack at will. And my co-workers and I, being safe indoors would howl with laughter as folks going about their shopping, or lunching or Romero flick style shambling, would come under repeated and earnest attack, these brief and unpleasant Hitchcockian vignettes.
    It’s really unsettling to be suddenly catch an angry bird smiting.
    And now as the tendrills of my prescription sleep aid increase their gossamer grip on my brain I’ll sign off. Lest I stay and babble any more that I seem to have already done.

  13. Pauline in UK says

    Hey! That’s the online jigsaw puzzle I was doing at NG the other week. I was in that good-for-nothing stage of a bout of ‘flu, just so you don’t think I’m a lazy sod. I wondered whether or not it was the woodpecker’s tongue, I just couldn’t see how the other bird could get its claws on it.

  14. Valis says

    Sorry to be completely OT, but something just died over at

    And by something, I mean the website.

    Yes, I was wondering about that myself. Most of the links have been dead since the weekend.

  15. NewEnglandBob says

    Sorry to be completely OT, but something just died over at

    Nope, must be your ‘local’ path to the server, probably a DNS screw-up. I have been going to many times each day with no problems whatsoever.

  16. Lord Zero says

    Beautiful. I wonder how those guys manage to
    take shoots like this ? Luck, time and expansive
    photographic equipment i guess.

  17. says

    PZ has it all wrong. The redheaded woodpecker had gotten borded with its usual diet of beetles and ants so went after something a little more filling like the yellow shafted northern flicker.

  18. Lee Picton says

    This is pretty impressive, but ounce for ounce, the most pugnacious birds of all are hummingbirds! I have seen males fighting over territory actually crashing into one another, trying to knock each other out of the air. Once the vanquished was knocked into the wall of our cabin with an audible thud. You can hardly believe it possible until you have seen it.

  19. Cal Harth says

    The context of this encounter is missing. I’m surprised that no one commenting here is familiar with Red-Headed Woodpecker behavior.
    I would guess that the Flicker is defending nestlings from predation by the Red-Head. The latter have been observed killing and eating small mammals and birds, including nestlings.
    My dad had a Red-Headed Woodpecker that killed many small birds at the feeder on his deck. He finally shot the woodpecker.
    Doesn’t anyone here watch birds?

  20. the pro from dover says

    To aquaria: In colorado, male flickers commonly take up residence in the rooftop outlets for fireplaces (here mandated to be gas), where they drum on the aluminum tubing to attract mates. Magnified by the length of tubing it sounds like a jackhammer inside. Not much of a bargain. In fact people pay $ to pest control providers to get rid of them. As far as birds are concerned I would appreciate more photos of the elusive pink breasted mattress thrasher.

  21. Allen N says

    It would appear that the woodpecker is trying to retrieve his tongue using his left leg. Now THAT’s UFC stuff!

  22. Jon H says

    Keep in mind that the woodpecker’s tongue goes all the way around the back of its head and is anchored at the top of the beak.


  23. Cal Harth says

    @36 Lee Picton,
    You are right in saying hummingbirds are very pugnacious. They have been observed attacking birds much larger than themselves often. There is one account of a hummingbird attacking a swan.

  24. mothra says

    @37 When I first saw the shot- a camera ad in National Geographic- my thought was territorial conflict and nesting hole. I do watch birds and note that the two species have very different feeding habits so the conflict could really only be about some aspect of nesting. Red-headed woodpeckers get evicted from their nest holes by Starlings. What goes around comes around-even it it has to be imported.

    @24. Woody woodpecker was an Ivory-billed woodpecker. In one episode he looks his name up in a bird book, and there in Walter Lance’s finest comic sans is written: Campephilus principalis.

  25. Chris says

    mothra @ #45:

    You have made my evening. That bit of info–that Woody Woodpecker (whose voice was another triumph of that great and endlessly versatile artist, Mel Blanc) was an ivory-billed–fills me with delight and wonder.

    Thank you.

  26. Saddam Hussien says

    what no video?! you got this and you gots no video?

    lets film what I do to your tongue!

  27. says

    1. What will the creationists make of this? Duane Gish had about a 40-minute slide show on the impossibility of evolution for “Mr. Woodpecker,” who would have starved to death waiting for woodpecker traits to evolve, like the zagodactyl feet, the tongue wrapped around the head, and so on. Gish went so far as to say “no other bird” has a hyoid bone in its tongue (if there is any bird that doesn’t have a hyoid, I haven’t found it). And here, in this photo, we have two radically different woodpeckers . . . it could make creationists explode. (One of my favorites: Gish said “Mr. Woodpecker” would starve to death waiting for “the special sticky fluid” on its tongue to evolve, apparently missing the point that almost every creature that has a tongue, including all other birds, has saliva, which is the “special sticky fluid.”)

    2. Check the voices again; Mrs. Walter Lantz did the Woody Woodpecker laugh, most of the time. Blanc did only the first four Woody cartoons, which are probably unfamiliar to those who loved Lantz’s later work (his studio closed down in 1972, years after most of the others had gone).

    3. When Woody came along, in 1940, was there any salacious or profane meaning to the name? But heck, if they could get Beaver Cleaver on mainstream television 20 years later, why not Woody Woodpecker?

  28. Leslie in Canada says

    Ed Darrell: thanks for the posting about Duane Gish. I was driving through the wilds of central Pennsylvania one day and channel-surfing the radio. A kindly old guy was talking about woodpeckers and I was quite interested as he described the various types. But then when he got to the Green-Headed European Woodpecker (or whatever it was) and described the tongue snaking all over the inside of its head he went on to say that the woodpecker could not possibly have evolved this way but was clearly just as Gawd made him. His description of the tongue made me think that Gawd must not have been much of a designer. Anyway, I always wondered about the old guy and I suspect now it was old Duane.

  29. woodsong says

    I know I’m late to the thread again….

    All day long–tap tap tap. Tap tap tap. I was ready to go out there and strangle him.

    Aquaria (and others with this problem–it’s fairly common), there is a (rather amusing, IMHO) solution.

    Look around for a sound-activated toy spider, the kind that look like a giant tarantula hanging by a thread, which drop suddenly and crawl back up at the sound of a clap. Turn it on and hang it under the eaves, or wherever the birds are knocking. Next time Mr. Pecker comes rapping, he’ll get a surprise!

    While I haven’t had reason to try this, I have heard of this as an effective solution, and I do have one of the spiders. They’re realistic (and large) enough to scare away any bird.

    Good luck.