Latin name: Picus
Other names: Espec, Espech, Pivert
No spike can remain in a tree where a woodpecker nests
Spikes or anything else cannot remain attached to a tree where a woodpecker nests, but immediately fall out; for this reason the woodpecker is considered divine. It is named for Picus, son of Saturn, because it was used in auguries. The woodpecker can reopen its hole if it is plugged, through the use of a particular herb.
|Sources (chronological order)|
Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 10, 20): Woodpeckers are used for taking augeries. Some climb straight up a tree, like a cat; others cling to the tree upside down. They can feel there is food under the bark by the sound it makes when they strike it. Woodpeckers are the only birds that raise their young in holes. A common belief has that when shepherds drive wedges into a woodpecker's hole, the birds use a type of grass to make them slip out. If a wedge or nail is driven into a tree where a woodpecker nests, when the bird perches in the tree the nail immediately comes out, no matter how hard it was driven in.
Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 7:47): The woodpecker (picus) is named from the son of Saturn, Picus, because woodpeckers were used in augeries. That this bird has some divine property is shown by the way nails or anything else attached to a tree where a woodpecker nests will immediately fall out.