Acorn Woodpecker

Melanerpes formicivorus

 Acorn woodpecker granary tree. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera.

The photo above shows the most commonly found
sign of this bird's presence - the acorns they store in granary trees.

Natural History of Acorn Woodpeckers

 

Acorn woodpecker

Acorn woodpeckers use the same storage trees over and over, year after year. Generations of the woodpeckers will use the same tree, which is called a granary tree. Jays and squirrels will visit the granary trees to take the acorns. The acorn woodpeckers cooperate together to defend their granary from other animals. Over the winter, the birds use the stored acorns for food. In the fall, when the acorns begin to ripen and fall from the oak trees, the holes in the granary trees are once again filled by these busy birds.

Acorn woodpeckers will also peck holes in the wooden siding of buildings to use as granaries, which makes their activities unpopular with homeowners.

The call of the acorn woodpecker sounds like laughter. Their distinctive calls can most often be heard during the early part of the day and in the evening.

 

 

Old acorn woodpecker granary tree. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

This piece of wood was found on the forest floor. It came from an old standing snag tree that had served for many years as an acorn woodpecker granary. The holes were left by the woodpeckers as they stored their winter supply of acorns. When this old tree finally fell down, the woodpeckers began using another nearby snag tree.
 

Acorn woodpecker nest hole. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Acorn woodpecker nest hole in an oak tree.

 
Acorn woodpecker. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2009.

Notice the stiff tail feathers on this acorn woodpecker. These can be braced against the bark of a tree and help hold the bird upright.

 
Acorn woodpecker. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2009.
Acorn woodpeckers will occasionally visit bird feeders.
 
Acorn woodpecker. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2009.
Notice that the acorn woodpecker has two toes facing forward and two toes facing backward. This helps them to grip the bark of trees.
 
Acorn woodpecker in nest hole in a tree. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2009.

Acorn woodpeckers create holes like this in trees in order to make safe places to nest. This one used an existing hollow inside a tree and simply had to make a hole to access it.

 
Acorn woodpecker on a branch. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2009.
The call of the acorn woodpecker is similar to the classic "Woody Woodpecker" call.
 
Acorn woodpeckers storing acorns. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2009.
This old tree is being used as a granary by acorn woodpeckers.
 
Acorn woodpeckers storing acorns in larder. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2009.
A standing dead snag tree makes perfect habitat for a family of woodpeckers.
 
Acorn woodpeckers at work storing acorns. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2009.
Each of these woodpeckers is storing an acorn inside a hole in this larder tree.
 
Acorn woodpecker granary tree. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2009.

A close-up view of a dead tree being actively used by acorn woodpeckers as a granary.

 
Acorn woodpecker storing an acorn. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2009.
This woodpecker has an acorn and is looking for a place to store it.
 
Acorn woodpeckers storing acorns. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2009.
Busy woodpeckers storing acorns in late fall. This is their winter food supply.
 
Acorn woodpecker side view. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2009.
Acorn woodpeckers used the same granary trees over and over, year after year.
 
acorn woodpecker foot
The foot of the acorn woodpecker, showing the claws that allow it to grip the bark.
 
acorn woodpecker in a tree
Acorn woodpecker high in a tree.
 
acorn woodpecker using tail feather
An acorn woodpecker braces its tail feathers against the tree to stabilize itself.
 
acorn woodpecker eating berries
An acorn woodpecker leans way over to grab a tasty meal of blackberry - fresh off the vine!
 

 

Acorn woodpecker. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera

 

granary tree acorn woodpecker feeding sign
This is a granary tree. An acorn woodpecker was feeding on this previously stored acorn.

 

Personal Notes on Acorn Woodpeckers

 

One of the sounds I hear frequently in the woods is the raucous call of the acorn woodpeckers. There is a group of them that lives near me. They can be seen storing the acorns and rapping on trees and buildings to make the holes in the fall. In winter, they remove the acorns and eat them. They are very bold birds and will chase away jays that are competing with them for food. Their bright coloration makes them a very beautiful animal.

   
Acorn woodpecker peeking out of a hole in an oak. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2007. This acorn woodpecker peeked out of its hole in an oak tree. I snapped several photos of it before it flew off. Then, another little head popped out of the hole, this bird's mate. I then left them alone and they went back to their hole.
The home of the acorn woodpeckers.

Acorn woodpecker nest hole in oak tree. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2007.

 

Find Acorn Woodpecker posters, greeting cards, postage stamps and more in my new store.

Visit Beartracker's Nature Store at: www.dirt-time.com  Happy tracking!!

What else can you find in the nature store? Beartracker's animal tracks coloring book, T-shirts, sweatshirts, journals, book bags, toddler and infant apparel, mouse pads, posters, postcards, coffee mugs, travel mugs, clocks, Frisbees, bumper stickers, hats, stickers, and many more items. All with tracks or paw  prints, or nature scenes. Custom products are available. If you don't see the track you want on the product you want, email me and I can probably create it. Proceeds from all sales go to pay the monthly fees for this web site. You can help support this site as well as get great tracking products! Thank you!

 

Find other tracking products: www.zazzle.com/tracker8459*

 

Also visit these fine stores for more products of interest:

NDN Pride shop - For Indian Pride items for all tribes. Custom items available on request.

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Get Every Child Outdoors (Get E.C.O.) - My shop dedicated to nature and getting kids interested in nature and the outdoors.

Sales from all stores give commissions to Beartracker's Animal Tracks Den, which helps keep this site online as a free service. We are celebrating ten years online this year!

 

 

 

 

 

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Copyright 1997, 2016. Text, photos, videos, and drawings by Kim A. Cabrera

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