Research has shown a Pileated Woodpecker can strike a hard surface up to 12,000 x per day. Each strike can be up to 1200 g-force. And what’s really remarkable is this large bird can strike up to 20 times per second (probably while drumming).

How can they do this? Woodpeckers have very powerful neck and jaw muscles. They also have reinforced skulls. Notice the spongy cartilage between the base of the bill and the rest of the skull and brain, which helps absorb the impact. These adaptations allow the woodpecker to strike with such intensity.

Additionally, the nictitating membrane, mentioned before with the Downy Woodpecker, is also thought to help keep the birds’ eyes from popping out of their sockets upon impact.

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