Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Acorn Woodpecker

                        If you're like me, an Acorn Woodpecker will probably make you smile.

Acorn Woodpeckers are a medium size, mountain dwelling bird with an outsized birdsonality. They’re comical in manner and appearance with more than enough charm to keep you smiling. Often described as clown-faced, they suggest evolution has a sense of humor. 

They live in the forest, but not in every forest. Their range only covers parts of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico. Oak and pine forests are their preferred habitat, especially the oak forests where acorns provide a primary food resource.

As woodpeckers, they exploit the dead and dying limbs of trees to chisel holes to make granaries. They stuff acorns into the round holes for their winter food supply. Some insects are stored for future consumption, too. These granary trees are valuable to the Acorn Woodpecker’s survival, so they guard them closely.

Making granaries allows Acorn Woodpeckers to remain in one location from year to year, thus insuring a territory with abundant resources. They have a complex social structure in which mate sharing, group sex and infanticide all coexist to benefit the group as a whole.

The sexes look alike…almost. Both sexes have red heads, but the male’s red extends further forward. The male is on the left.  The other two are females. 

Hanging on trees and poles, they use their stiff tail feathers for support. 

Funny looking or not, the Acorn Woodpeckers invite you to let them entertain you.

Take the bait! 

As with any bird, the brief investment in time spent pays off with a smile. You could be measurably poorer without it.


Credit: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds; Carly Hodes
Credit: The Sibley Guide to Birds 2nd Edition

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