Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

2012 Spring Banquet Celebrates the ‘World of Woodpeckers’

MVFN Spring Banquet Celebrates the ‘World of Woodpeckers’

By Cathy Keddy, MVFN Program Chair

NOTE: Tickets for ‘World of Woodpeckers’ at MVFN’s Spring Gathering 2012 banquet evening must be purchased in advance by Friday, May 11. Tickets are $30 and will be available at the following locations:

Almonte: Gilligallou Bird (Heritage Court, Mill St.) 
Carleton Place: Read’s Book Shop (Lansdowne Ave.)
Lanark: Lanark Living Realty (George St.)
Pakenham: Don’s Meat Market (Main St.)
Perth: The Office (Wilson St. E.)

Tickets may also be reserved through MVFN’s Brenda Boyd (613) 256-2706,  and  picked up and paid for at the door. We ask that all those reserving tickets please commit to picking them up as MVFN must pay banquet costs for all reserved tickets!

 Above: This painting by John James Audubon, 1785-1851) shows a family
 of pileated woodpeckers. These are the largest woodpeckers in the forests of Lanark County.

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) will hold their third annual Spring Gathering banquet May 17. The evening will feature a keynote presentation—World of Woodpeckers—by Dan Schneider, biologist, writer and senior interpreter with the Grand River Conservation Authority.

The world of woodpeckers is indeed large. But, as Woody Woodpecker would say, “ah-ha-ha—ha—ha!” MVFN’s Spring Gathering presentation will be limited to avian creatures with bills for tree drilling and drumming, and long sticky tongues for extracting food, but will not cover the British rugby team, or Woodpeckers from Space!

There are over 200 species in the woodpecker family, the Picidae. Spread around the globe, they include four main groups: piculets, wrynecks, sapsuckers, and true woodpeckers. Interestingly, though, none is found in Australia, New Zealand, or Madagascar. Why? Woodpeckers are uniquely specialized for their wood hammering habits. They hammer on trees at a rate of 15 to 20 times per second—a rate of fire nearly twice as fast as a sub-machine gun. Not only that, their brains are subjected to deceleration impact forces of up to 1500 g (g = force of gravity) with each blow. Consider that a football player would receive concussion injuries from a force only 1/100 as strong, survivable car crashes rarely exceed 100 g, and airplane black boxes are designed to survive only about 1,000 g! The design of woodpecker’s heads is inspiring the development of new shock-absorbing systems for electronics and humans.

There are many things about woodpeckers that bear further investigation beyond why they don’t end up with extreme headaches from hitting their heads against trees or blindness from the flying wood chips. For example, since woodpeckers’ bills are not very long, how do they fit their much longer tongues inside them? And what about their their zygodactyl feet?

MVFN invites you to Spring Gathering 2012 to expand your appreciation for this novel ornithological assembly beyond downy, hairy and pileated and to celebrate spring with a delicious banquet at a gathering with others who care about nature. Dan will share his love for these magnificent avian creatures and tell us more about their distinctive features, ecology, and conservation. He will give us a global tour, a continental perspectve, and tell us about species that live around us.

MVFN’s Spring Gathering 2012 will take place Thursday May 17, 2012 at Almonte Civitan Community Hall, 500 Almonte St. (just west of Highway 29), Almonte. The reception will begin at 6:00 pm, and at 6:45 the banquet followed by the presentation will take place. Tickets ($30), which must be purchased in advance by Friday, May 11, will be available in Almonte at Gilligallou Bird (Heritage Court, Mill St.), in Carleton Place at Read’s Book Shop (Lansdowne Ave.), in Lanark at Lanark Living Realty (George St.), in Pakenham at Don’s Meat Market (Main St.) and in Perth at The Office (Wilson St. E.). Please contact MVFN’s Brenda Boyd at (613) 256- 2706 for further information.

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