Acorn Woodpecker

January 14, 2013 Posted by: BW - Volunteer Interpreter

Acorn Woodpecker
Melanerpes formicivorous

One of eleven bird species in the woodpecker family that can be found here, many acorn woodpeckers make a home at the lower elevations of Yosemite National Park. In Yosemite Valley, this is one of the most apparent birds, often making quite a ruckus with loud nasal squawks that could resemble maniacal laughter. Seek out oak woodlands to find these year-round residents. 

A gregarious bird, this woodpecker has a fascinating and visible social life. Living in family groups of a dozen or more birds, they stock pile food, defend territory, and raise young together. Even though they may prefer insects, often catching them on the wing, the food that helps these birds survive the winter in Yosemite is, you guessed it, acorns. Acorn woodpeckers store huge numbers of acorns in individually drilled holes in large storage trees known as granaries. A single granary can hold up to 50,000 acorns! They will also use human-made structures to store acorns, occasionally putting them where they cannot retrieve them. Many pounds of acorns have been mistakenly stored within the hollow walls of some buildings in Yosemite Valley! 

 Acorn Woodpecker adding to a granary.  An acorn granary  Acorns stored inside the wall of a building.

An acorn woodpecker

An acorn granary

Acorns stored inside the wall of a building

Nature Scene, BW, Yosemite Valley

Last updated: January 22, 2013

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