Acorn Woodpecker

Species Profile: Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus

Learn more about this species in the Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America.

Introduction to the species

“The first month or more of nest building was the period when the woodpeckers exhibited their greatest industry; there was then scarcely a moment between sunrise and sunset, rain or shine, that one or another of the birds was not at work on the job, in no half-hearted way. Their close application and earnestness, it might be said ‘feverish haste,’ in carrying on the work at that time, seemed to indicate that they appreciated they had undertaken a task of no small proportions. … The odd family seldom quarreled, and from all appearances the strange relation was a harmonious one.”
-A. Leach 1925

The well-named Acorn Woodpecker exhibits some of the most fascinating behaviors among the North American Picinae, from its communal breeding habits to its construction of elaborate storage “granaries.” The latter activity of this industrious carpenter is its signature: obsessively pounding acorns into tight-fitting holes it has drilled in the bark of large trees. The largest granary trees have been estimated to hold more than 50,000 acorns, with more than twice this number once found piled on the floors of abandoned cabins in California’s Sierra Nevada (having been tapped into the thin roofs of the buildings!).

Gallery of photos of the Acorn Woodpecker by Steve Shunk

 

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