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Through the Lens: Acorn Woodpecker | Cornell Lab of Ornithology

January 20, 2020

The Acorn Woodpecker is a favorite among bird watchers. It has a clown like appearance and the unique habit of storing acorns in a favored tree that is often used by generations of birds. Wildlife Photographer Marie Read shares her experience photographing the behaviors of these lively birds.

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  1. Patricia Welch permalink
    January 21, 2020 9:09 am

    For a long time they lived at the intersection by the post office then Crows moved them out. I see two or three in the yard sometimes and also on Waveview but haven’t found a community of them. P

    Sent from my iPad



    • Chukar permalink*
      January 24, 2020 5:35 pm

      The extended Acorn Woodpecker family location is based on the location of their granary, which is usually a large tree, sometimes a telephone pole, into which they have drilled innumerable acorn-size holes, and into said holes they stuff acorns, one acorn per hole. Old granary trees can have tens of thousands of such holes. The granary serves for them the same purpose as does a silo or alfalfa-filled barn for a farmer or rancher. The holes can easily take 20 minutes per hole to drill, so a tree with 30,000 holes will represent at least 10,000 woodpecker-hours of labor. Losing the tree to fire, wind or chainsaw is a family catastrophe, and they may be forced to relocate and start over on a new granary, or just disband. If the area still has a good supply of acorn-bearing oaks, and thus worth their staying they probably will rebuild the granary very close by.

      But if the granary is not harmed, it is difficult to imagine that they’d abandon the area under mere pressure from crows. If you see a granary, and there are many acorns in the granary, they are around somewhere nearby. They don’t make nestholes any farther away than necessary, although they are often not in the granary tree itself. They hang out a lot in the granary tree to protect their store. Squirrels and Jays are common acorn granary robbers. Crows, perhaps, although I’ve never personally seen a crow trying to steal an acorn from the granary.


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