woodpecker haven

California Live Oaks are magnets for Acorn Woodpeckers, who use them for nest sites, a source of food, and a place to hang out with friends.  These are very social woodpeckers, with youngsters from previous years staying on to help raise the current year’s offspring. This makes for a very large, noisy family, as they communicate with each other about the status of this year’s acorn storage from the trunks of the live oaks.

acorn woodpeckers

Adult Acorn Woodpeckers and at least one fledgling perched together right by the side of the road into the Pinnacles National Park visitor center.  

Although their diet consists of flying and crawling insects, other arthropods, fruit, sap, and flower nectar, they are noted for their extensive nut storage granaries, particularly for acorns.  Hundreds to thousands of holes may be drilled in dead trees, into which acorns are wedged so tightly, other animals are unable to remove them.

acorn woodpecker granary

This particular granary, with holes all around the circumference of the tree extending 30 feet up, was mostly empty.  Ripe, moist acorns are stuffed into the larger holes, and as they dry out and shrink in size, they are moved to smaller holes.

Acorn Woodpecker granary

A close-up view of the previous photo shows just a few acorns still stored here.  Usually the nuts are so tightly wedged in the hole, they can only be removed by the chisel-shaped bill of the Acorn woodpeckers.

Acorn Woodpecker storing an acorn

This woodpecker was removing an acorn from one hole and stuffing it into another in the dead branch.

Acorn Woodpecker

It seems they have pretty good binocular vision — that would come in handy when trying to find the right-sized hole for a particular nut.

For more information about the love life of Acorn Woodpeckers, and a great video of their activity, see my earlier post “Nutty for Acorns“.

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