Subscribe to BirdNote

Sign up to receive a weekly email preview of the following week's shows!

Sign Up
Support BirdNote

Help BirdNote tell more stories, reach more people, and inspire action.


You are here

Paul Bannick - Owls and Woodpeckers

How owls benefit from the work of woodpeckers

Photographer and naturalist Paul Bannick, whose photos appear frequently on this website, has spent a lot of time observing woodpeckers and owls, including this Great Horned Owl. Paul notes: "Woodpeckers are called 'keystone' species...a species which alters its habitat to the benefit of other species..." Visit Paul Bannick's photos at his website.

Full Transcript

Paul Bannick Talks about Owls and Woodpeckers

Written up by Chris Peterson

 This is BirdNote.
 [Call of a Great Horned Owl and a Northern Flicker]
 Photographer and naturalist Paul Bannick has spent a lot of time observing owls, including this Great Horned Owl, and woodpeckers, like the Northern Flicker we’re hearing. Let’s learn why.
[13:32] One of the fascinating things is that all of us see owls and woodpeckers [on a daily basis] and when you see them, it’s telling you a lot about the habitat. And there is good habitat around many cities and towns and there’s a great opportunity for us to make that habitat better.
[Hoot of the Great Horned Owl]
The owl is a species at the apex of a food chain.
 [26:57] The woodpeckers [Call and drilling of Northern Flicker] are what is called a ‘keystone’ species…a species which alters its habitat to the benefit of other species. . [27:23] So in other words, it’s the woodpecker who drills the cavities used by other birds for nests, particularly the owls, and also, it drills wells that supply food for other birds and animals. It ends up making its own environment much richer.
…. [18:46] And there’s no woodpecker in North America that creates more of those large cavities than the Northern Flicker.
 [More drilling and Northern Flicker calls]
The 2012 BirdNote calendar features stunning photos by Paul Bannick, including one woodpecker and two owls.  This calendar could make a great gift for the bird-lover in your life. Check it out on our website,
Call of the provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Great Horned Owl recorded by W.L. Hershberger.  Northern Flicker recorded by R.C. Stein.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2011 Tune In to   October 2011   Narrator: Mary McCann

ID# bannickp-01-2008-10-21   bannickp-01b

Sights & Sounds

Related field notes: