Marvel Of God’s Creation #10: The Woodpecker

If there is any animal that breaks the rules of evolution in such a way that it could not possibly have evolved, then it would need God as its Creator. The woodpecker is an example of such an animal. And if there is any animal (like the woodpecker) that must have needed God to create it, why not believe in God as the creator of everything else as well?

The woodpecker’s beak is unlike that of other birds. It is designed to hammer its way into the hardest of trees. If the woodpecker evolved, how would it develop its thick, tough beak? Let’s suppose some bird decided that there must be all kinds of little critters, which would be good for lunch, hidden beneath the bark of trees. This bird decided to peck through the bark and into the hardwood tree. On first peck, this bird discovered problems with the way it was put together. Its beak shattered when it slammed against the tree, its tail feathers broke, and it developed a migraine-strength headache.

With a shattered beak, the little bird was unable to eat and so it died. Now this bird began to think, “I must evolve a thicker beak and stronger tail feathers and something to help prevent headaches.” Of course not! Dead animals cannot evolve anything. Yet the woodpecker not only has an industrial-strength beak, it also has a special cartilage between its head and beak to absorb some of the shock from the continuous drumming. Woodpeckers go home at night without a headache.

To help with the absorption of the constant pounding, the woodpecker has uniquely resilient tail feathers. It uses its tail feathers and feet to form a tripod effect as it clings to the tree. Even its feet are specially designed to enable it to move up, down, and around, vertical tree trunks. The feet of the woodpecker have two toes in front and two toes in back. Most other birds have three toes in front and one in back.

This two-plus-two toe pattern...along with stiff yet elastic tail feathers, allows a woodpecker to grasp a tree firmly and balance itself on a vertical surface. When the woodpecker braces itself to chisel a hole, the tail feathers bend and spread, buttressing the bird against the rough tree surface. In this way feet and tail form an effective tripod to stabilize the blows of hammering into wood.161

Suppose that somehow a bird, knowing there was lunch in those trees, developed the strong beak, the shock absorber cartilage between the beak and the skull, the ability to move its head faster than you can tap fingers, the “two-plus-two” feet and the super stiff, yet, elastic tail feathers. This bird still has a major problem. It will starve to death. How could it drag its lunch out of the little insect tunnels in the tree? Have you ever attempted to drag an insect larva out of a tunnel? They hang on!

God has taken care of the woodpecker by creating in it a tongue that is several times longer than the average bird’s tongue. Lester and Bohlin comment:

...the tongue of a woodpecker is in a class by itself. When chiseling into a tree, the woodpecker will occasionally come across insect tunnels. Its tongue is long and slender and is used to probe these tunnels for insects. The tip is like a spearhead with a number of barbs or hairs pointing rearward. This facilitates securing the insect while transporting it to the beak. A sticky glue-like substance coats the tongue to aid in this process as well.162

What a fascinating creation! Not only does the woodpecker have little barbs on the tip of its tongue, it is also a mini-glue factory. And the glue sticks securely to insects but does not stick to the beak of the woodpecker. Aren’t God’s creations marvelous!

But this is not all. Most birds have a tongue and a beak about the same length. The tongue of the woodpecker has evolutionists scratching their heads. It can be stretched far beyond the tip of the woodpecker’s beak as it searches the larval tunnels for food. The animal kingdom displays no other tongues quite like that of the woodpecker. The tongue of some woodpeckers does not come from its throat up into its mouth like other creatures. For example, the European Green woodpecker’s tongue goes down the throat, out the back of the neck “...around the back of the skull beneath the skin, and over the top between the eyes, terminating usually just below the eye socket.”163 In some woodpeckers the tongue exits the skull between the eyes and enters the beak through one of the nostrils! How would this evolve? And from what ancestor did the woodpecker inherit its special beak, feet, tail feathers, shock absorbing cartilage, thicker skull and unique tongue?

Did you know that a woodpecker opens and closes its eyes in between each peck? In between each rapid-fire peck the little bird opens its eyes, focuses, aims its beak, closes its eyes and then hits the tree with its pointed beak. Not only does the woodpecker close its eyes to keep the wood chips out, but also for another very important reason. Scientists have measured the force of the impact of the bird’s head against the hardwood tree. The force is so powerful that if the bird did not close its eyes it would pop its eyeballs out! Have you ever seen a blind woodpecker? They never forget to close their eyes. Only God could design this!

If evolution is true and if birds came from reptiles, many other changes would be necessitated. Many bones in woodpeckers (birds) are hollow to make them lighter for flight, but reptile bones are heavy. Birds do not have a bladder like reptiles do. This also helps to keep their weight down. They do not have to carry extra water-weight into their flight.

When woodpeckers and other birds sit on a branch their toes are attached to ligaments in such a way that the more they relax, the tighter their toes grasp the branch. This is the reason a strong wind can be blowing against a woodpecker sleeping on a branch and the bird does not blow off!

The woodpecker displays the glory of his Creator who is also our Creator. Why would an evolutionist study a marvel of God’s creation such as the woodpecker and still refuse to believe in God the Creator? Only one answer seems to make sense! Pride! Pride! Pride!

Adrian Forsyth, evolutionist and expert on birds writes the following about a barn swallow (I’m sure it applies to woodpeckers as well):

Darwin, however, freed the contemplative naturalist from that static point of view [that the God of the Bible created birds, Ed.]. As a consequence, every natural object offers our imaginations a history and biography. Rather than simply admiring the nest as a work woven without hands, we wonder how it came here and what its future is. More importantly, we begin to realize that barn swallows have not been passive pawns of omnipotent creation. They have had a role in their own fate.164

“Rational,” humanistic man thinks that he himself is the “...master of his fate and the captain of his soul.” This blinding pride does not allow the intrusion of a personal sovereign Creator and God, but rather sees man as the pinnacle of all that is. The time has come for us to humble ourselves and bow before our infinitely righteous Almighty Creator!

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place (2 Chronicles 7:14,15).

Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you (1 Peter 5:5b-7).

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem the other better than themselves.

Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father [Philippians 2:3-11, Emphasis added].

161 Lane P. Lester and Raymond G. Bohlin, The Natural Limits to Biological Change (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), p. 24.

162 Ibid., p. 24.

163 Ibid., p. 25.

164 Adrian Forsyth, The Nature of Birds (Ontario, Canada: Camden house Publishing, 1988), p. 16.