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Sometimes it seems that you are simply banging your head against a brick wall, as the frustrations of contemporary life seem to conspire against you. For us, life’s headaches are common enough, but what if you spent your life battering your head against a wall—intentionally? How would you avoid headaches, concussions, “shaken baby” syndrome, or even retinal detachments?
The pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) illustrated on this month’s cover is North America’s largest woodpecker, with only the ivory billed and imperial woodpecker of Mexico, if either species is not extinct, being larger. Woodpeckers hammer their lives away for feeding, nest construction, and drumming. A canopy dweller with a voracious appetite, D pileatus depends on a diet rich in protein, with ants the preferred food. Various berries and wild fruits may represent a mainstay in the autumn and winter months. The hollowed nest cavity is extraordinary in size, up to 8 inches in diameter and 2 feet deep. The drumming is species specific and may be used for communication or territorial display, but is not related to feeding. As a result of these …
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