Skip to content
Three-toed Woodpecker

View on YouTube

Imagine, for a moment, slamming your face into a brick wall going 16 miles per hour. This self-destructive (and foolish) act would generate a deceleration force of about 1,200 g. Yet, a woodpecker exerts the same force up to 20 times per second, and as many as 12,000 times per day, pounding its head into trees! How does it do this without getting concussions or retinal hemorrhages?!

Steve ShunkNorth American woodpecker specialist Steve Shunk has the answers to these questions and so much more. Woodpeckers possess amazing adaptations that make them one of the most specialized bird families in the world, and each species’ anatomy perfectly suits its unique lifestyle. Our speaker will dive deep into the secrets of woodpecker anatomy, with 3-D skeletal images, videos of signature behaviors, and historic drawings of anatomical features.

Shunk moved to Central Oregon’s “Woodpecker Wonderland” in 1997. Eleven woodpecker species can be found there, breeding in areas of less than 100 square miles. This phenomenon led to his 20-year obsession with studying this charismatic family of birds, and he founded the region’s woodpecker festival in 2008. Steve co-founded the East Cascades Bird Conservancy (now East Cascades Audubon), and served as its first president. Steve also co-founded the Oregon Birding Trails Program and coordinated its flagship project, the Oregon Cascades Birding Trail. Steve’s woodpecker fanaticism eventually led to the 2016 release of his Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America. He currently guides full-time for Arizona-based Naturalist Journeys. Learn more about Steve at his website,

Our Programs are open to all! Please plan to join us at the Campbell Center (155 High Street) near Skinner Butte. The East Hall has comfortable seating and a big screen, or you can enjoy the program from home over a zoom link, which will be available about a week before the meeting on the LCAS website. Past program meetings are posted on our website within a week or so after each meeting.