Friday, March 05, 2010

Acorn Woodpeckers: A Bushel and a Peck

Location: Lake Cachula, Ca

This is an Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus), numerous in this park:

They are fun birds to watch -- they make holes in trees and then stuff the holes with acorns, presumably for an emergency food store as the birds prefer a diet of insects. The acorns are wedged so tightly in the holes that even squirrels can't get them out, but keeping them this tight requires a lot of maintenance -- as they dry the acorns shrink, so they must be moved to smaller holes. All that "tree tending" keeps them quite busy!

Some of the trees, called "granaries," have an amazing number of holes in them. The woodpeckers re-use the holes from year to year.

So what's with the "bushel and a peck" in the title? The peck is obvious -- they are woodpeckers, and, of course, they peck wood -- and acorns. They also live in groups, and a group of Acorn Woodpeckers is collectively called ... you guessed it... a "bushel of woodpeckers!"

1 comment:

Sharon Del Rosario said...

What a neat story! I learned a lot about this species of woodpeckers. Makes me appreciate how easy it is for us to get our food!