ACORN WOODPECKER


Melanerpes formicivorus


Description:

It's the "clownish" wake-up wake-up laugh that makes these birds recognizable before you ever see them. The Acorn Woodpeckers have the unique habit of pecking individual holes into both dead and live Pine and Oak trees and then placing acorns within the holes. The acorns, however, are only a reserve food source (i.e. for winter). The birds main diet consists of fruits and insects. Like all Woodpeckers, these birds use their tails to steady themselves when clinging to a tree. These birds are highly social and live in groups of twelve or more. In this group, only a few may mate, but all take responsibility for raising the babies and creating nests.


Appearance:

General: 8 to 9 inches in length.

Male: Black with a red crown, bright yellow throat, and white and black spotted chest and belly. The crown and throat feathers stand out and look beautiful in the sunlight.

Female: Lacks the yellow throat and has a smaller red patch on the back of the head.


Habitat:

Open Oak and Pine forests. I have found the best place to view them is Cuyamaca State Park.


Nesting:

They build their nests within tree holes. They lay 4-5 white eggs with an 11-12 day incubation period. Fledging occurs 30-32 days after hatching. The nests are built and the young are cared for by all members of the colony.


Observed Locations:

  • Paso Picacho Campground, Cuyamaca
  • Palomar Mountain State Park, Palomar
  • Oak Hill Cemetary, Escondido





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