California Woodpeckers Workshop with Steve Shunk
Tongues, Toes & Tales of California Woodpeckers—Anatomy & Adaptation Workshop with Stephen Shunk
Classroom Session: Thursday, Nov 21, 6:30-8:30 p.m.; Milpitas Conference Center, Room 6.
Field Trip: Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, 8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Sanborn County Park, Saratoga, CA
Imagine, for a moment, slamming your face into a brick wall going 16 miles per hour. This self-destructive (and foolish) act would require you to exert about 1,200 g of force. 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?!
Woodpeckers possess a suite of adaptations that makes them one of the most specialized bird families in the world. Each species’ anatomy perfectly suits its unique lifestyle, with different woodpeckers possessing adaptations for aerial acrobatics; for drilling sap wells; for extracting wood-boring beetle larvae; or for extracting ants from underground burrows. Join North American woodpecker specialist Steve Shunk as we explore the amazing world of woodpecker specialization.
In our Thursday evening classroom session, Steve will dive deep into the secrets of woodpecker anatomy. Visuals will include 3-D skeletal images, video clips of signature behaviors, and historic drawings of anatomical characters. Our Saturday field trip will take us into some of the best forest and woodland habitats in the South Bay Area. In Sanborn County Park, we will search for up to six woodpecker species that occur more-or-less regularly, including the elusive Pileated. Regardless of how many species we see, Steve will interpret habitats and woodpecker signs to help you better understand woodpecker natural history, ecology, and conservation.
Stephen Shunk grew up in Arlington, Texas and in the San Francisco Bay Area. He began birding in 1989, while he was a student at San Jose State University. Steve started teaching about birds and their habitats in 1991, and he conducted his first field work in 1995, monitoring colonial waterbirds among the south bay wetlands for SFBBO.
After growing tired of life in the urban jungle, Steve left California in 1997, eventually landing in the forests of central Oregon’s ‘Woodpecker Wonderland’—where eleven woodpecker species breed annually in areas smaller than the city limits of San Jose. He has spent the last 20 years studying woodpeckers in his backyard and beyond, and his long-awaited Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America hit the shelves in May 2016.
To learn more about SFBBO, please visit our website.