WOODPECKERS: GO NUTS FOR NUTS
Acorn Woodpeckers are nature’s food hoarders. As the name might suggest these woodpeckers are obsessed with acorns! Much of their time is devoted to eating or storing (hoarding) acorns. But these birds take storing to an extreme level. In their efforts to store as many acorns as possible Acorn Woodpeckers tend to pick an ideal location. To these woodpeckers, any nice wooden area or structure may be the perfect “granary.”
Most of the time these granaries or pantries will be used for communal feasting. In fact in Arizona, a group of Acorn Woodpeckers collected 485 lbs of acorns and stored them in a wooden water tank! These birds are not afraid to use man-made structures for their storage and have become quite a nuisance by drilling holes into fences and utility poles. But even when they use trees for their storage they usually don’t do much damage! Part of that is because their timing, when they store their acorns, is usually during winter when trees have thicker bark, which keeps them safe from drilling woodpeckers.
Not only are they nutty about their acorns, but they have also been known to store hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts, and almonds in individually drilled holes. Once they have stored their food they will continue to reuse the old holes and will periodically check on they acorns and move them around as needed.
If you are curious to see some Acorn Woodpeckers and happen to live near pine or oak forested areas they are fairly easy to spot with their loud squawks and their black and white plumage. If you aren’t looking for them you might be able to spot them even by their food storage. Keep a sharp look out for hole riddled trees or “granary trees,” and there will definitely be some Acorn Woodpeckers nearby! Acorn Woodpeckers are some of the most observed birds because of their complicated social behaviors so have fun observing these nutty birds.