Creepy Crawlies With Christy 122117

Creepy Crawlies With Christy 122117

By Christy Pitto
For The Independent

 

acorn with peanut on back branch sm sd

acorn woodpeckers workThis week let’s meet another fine feathered fellow you’re likely to spot flitting around the Upper Rogue; the Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus). Though at a mere 9” the acorn woodpecker is small in stature, their beautiful black, white and red coloring (and those enormous eyes!) makes them stand out in any crowd.

Crowd also describes the acorn woodpecker’s way of life. Unlike most woodpecker species the acorn’s live in large groups, sharing gathered acorns and helping each other raise the collective young. Young (non-breeding) woodpeckers stay with their parents for a few years, helping to raise their younger siblings.

Some folks call Acorns the “clowns of the bird world”. They are very entertaining to watch, not just because of their bright coloration, but also their funny calls and little ‘dances’ they do to try to convince other bird “I’m bigger than I look!”

Acorn woodpeckers do use those formative beaks to drill into the thick bark (not into the living tissue) of trees (and even telephone poles) but they aren’t looking for insects, rather they hoard their acorns – by the thousands – in these shallow openings. These storage trees (or telephone poles, etc.) are called “Granaries” and the largest one on record held 50,000 nuts.

Acorn’s will eat seed, fruit and insects, but it’s not hard to guess which food is their favorite. They love their acorns so much that at least one member of the flock stands guard 24/7.

In the Klamath Mountains and the Willamette Valley, Acorns are a Species of Concern (learn more at http://oregonconservationstrategy.com/ocs-strategy-species/birds/ ). Aren’t we lucky here in the Upper Rogue to have a healthy, humorous population?