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Date/Time
Date(s) - Tuesday, May 25, 2021
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

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The Woodpecker’s Tongue and Other Avian Adaptations
Presented by Dan Gleason

Awakened by a woodpecker drumming on your gutters at 5 am? Or was one tapping on a nearby street sign? No, they aren’t trying to dig out your gutters, nor have their brains been addled!

Banging your head against a tree all day may not seem like a productive way to spend your life, but woodpeckers are adapted to do just that and they do so very successfully. There are many fascinating adaptations found in woodpeckers that facilitate this mode of living and there are also many other bird adaptations in the bird world.

During Dan’s program he will discuss some of the most unusual and generally little-known specialized bird adaptations, beginning with woodpeckers and the many adaptations they have for their specialized lifestyle. Among these adaptations is the tongue, which may seem a very strange structure when first described, but you will learn how beautifully-adapted this structure is for a woodpecker’s lifestyle.

Topics we’ll cover in this program go beyond woodpeckers and include other fascinating adaptations that help birds. Many of these adaptations are not found in field guides, so many people are not aware of them, and indeed, they make birds among the most fascinating of creatures to study and learn about.

Join us for a fascinating look at Avian Adaptations!


An Oregon native, Dan Gleason was on the faculty of the University of Oregon Biology Department for 30 years, and taught Ornithology for senior-graduate level biology majors for 35 years. He is the author of Birds! From The Inside Out, an introductory textbook about birds, and Looking for Yellowheads, a book of stories accumulated in over 45 years of watching birds.

Dan has been active on bird organization boards of directors (Lane County Audubon Society, Oregon Field Ornithologists), and was an educational volunteer at Cascades Raptor Center in Eugene. He has been involved in environmental education for over 40 years, and has given presentations for schools, clubs and organizations throughout the Northwest. Dan’s monthly wild bird-focused newspaper column, Backyard Habitats was published for over 10 years in the Eugene Register Guard until the newspaper’s ownership changed in 2018.

Dan Gleason and his wife, Barbara, are the owners of Wild Birds Unlimited in Eugene, a wild bird-focused store helping bring people and nature together. Barbara and Dan have fed birds a combined total of +90 years! Their many bird feeders offer different types of food to encourage a wide variety of bird species. They use pest-resistant foods, and are in the process of making their new yard bird-friendly, creating havens for shelter and cover for the birds.

Dan’s speaking engagements and bird walks took a hiatus in 2019 as he fought off AML leukemia. He prevailed, and although his visual and vestibular abilities suffered permanent changes due to treatment, he is at peace with the outcome. Dan remains active, continuing to provide vital science-based information to the region’s birding community. He is considering launching a nature exploration series called “Slow Meanders with a Blind Birdwatcher.”


This will be a zoom meeting, signup instructions will be posted as the meeting approaches.