Moment of Impact
Photos: Inside the Moment: Woodpecker

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The force of one strike of a woodpecker’s beak is 20 times that of a boxer’s punch.
To prevent brain damage, muscles behind a woodpecker’s beak contract to divert the force of the blow an instant before each strike. In addition, the bird’s long tongue retracts and wraps around the skull for extra support. The inner eyelid also closes in some species to protect the eyeball from sharp splinters.
The woodpecker slams its beak into the side of a tree 20 times per second.
Woodpeckers bang on trees to chisel out nests to keep offspring safe, to catch bugs for food, and to produce mating calls.


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