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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Acorn Woodpecker: Facts You Won't Believe!

Acorn woodpecker facts for kids are fun to learn.

An acorn woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus) belongs to the order Piciformes and the family Picidae. They are medium to small in size and as their name suggests, they have a lot to do with acorns! These woodpeckers store acorns in holes that they drill in trees and feed on them during winter.

These woodpeckers are found in forests, coastal areas, and riversides in North America and Central America. The range of these woodpeckers is from Mexico and ends in Colombia.

During the process of foraging, they often pick acorns from trees and seldom collect fallen acorns from the ground. They find their acorns from in and around the areas they live as they don't stray from their nesting areas. They spend a large amount of their lifespan drilling holes into trees and storing acorns in them for themselves and for future generations.

If you liked these facts about the acorn woodpecker, then you'll surely like these facts about the pileated woodpecker and ivory-billed woodpecker too!

Acorn Woodpecker Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an acorn woodpecker?

Acorn woodpeckers are medium-sized woodpeckers that live in small colonies and are infamous for hoarding acorns. These birds drill small holes in tree trunks and utility poles in human habitats. They harvest acorns and store them to be eaten during winter and this stock of acorns creates a 'granary tree' from which generations of woodpeckers can find nutrition.

What class of animal does an acorn woodpecker belong to?

Acorn woodpeckers belongs to the Aves class of the Animalia Kingdom and belongs to the order  Piciformes and the family Picidae.

Aves class consists mostly of birds. Birds are vertebrates that have feathers and can fly or be flightless. Forelimbs in this class have been modified as wings for flight and they lack teeth in their mouth.

How many acorn woodpeckers are there in the world?

Acorn woodpeckers can be found all over North American, Central American, and Colombian regions because of their abundance and an estimated population of five million individual woodpeckers has been listed.

Where does an acorn woodpecker live?

Acorn woodpeckers prefer large open habitats and can be found in coastal areas alongside forests that are surrounded by large pine-oak woodlands.

What is an acorn woodpecker's habitat?

Acorn woodpeckers live all year-round in oak and pine-oak woodlands. They can also be found in other habitats where oak woodlands are present for example streamside forests, redwood forests, suburban areas, tropical hardwood forests, and urban parks. Even though they are found as low as sea level, they are more commonly found in mountainous areas which range up to the limit of the height of an oak tree.

This clown-faced woodpecker is tolerant towards humans and can also be found in towns if they can find suitable places to store their acorns.

Who do acorn woodpeckers live with?

Acorn woodpeckers are social in nature like most other similar species and usually live together in groups. The tropical population of these birds often moves together. Acorn woodpeckers are extremely territorial of their granary trees which can be referred to as a pantry of sort. They are sedentary in nature but will migrate when there are seasonal fluctuations of insects.

These birds will tolerate a male or female woodpecker during breeding seasons and breeding males will help out breeding females in the incubation process of the eggs in a single nest.

How long does an acorn woodpecker live?

These woodpeckers have a lifespan that can range from nine and a half years to 16 years in wildlife. The oldest woodpecker of this species was reported to live for around 17 years and three months. This individual was identified in 2009 as it still had a colored leg band which was put on it in 1992, allowing its age to be calculated.

How do they reproduce?

Male acorn woodpeckers sexually mature when they are 25 months old and females sexually mature when they are 22 months old.

Acorn woodpeckers are monogamous in nature in some populations and show signs of cooperative polygamy in others. Groups have one to seven males that compete to mate with one to two females that will lay eggs. In groups that have more than one female breeder, co-breeders will lay eggs in the same nest cavity. Due to extreme breeding competition, males often destroy eggs laid by co-breeders. Females have established a normal laying sequence that puts an end to the destruction of the nest and eggs by males.

During breeding, a nest cavity is drilled into a large dead tree or in living tree branches, which might already be a granary tree. Eggs are laid at 24 hour intervals and the incubation period is 14 days where males and females take turns to incubate the eggs. After the eggs have hatched, all group members will provide food for the hatchlings.

What is their conservation status?

Although these birds are listed by the IUCN Red List as a species of Least Concern due to a stable population, they can fall victim to several natural and man-made threats. Habitat loss, degradation, overgrazing, and destruction of pine and oak forests for development purposes in the regions of North America are a common reason for loss of life among these birds.

Acorn Woodpecker Fun Facts

What do acorn woodpeckers look like?

An acorn woodpecker is a medium to small-sized bird. It is black and white in color with a red crown, and a glossy head. It has white eyes, a white rump, and wing patches. A red or yellow-tipped feather on its throat can be seen most of the time. However, in the Colombian population, males have a solid red crown and female acorn woodpeckers have a black band that separates their white foreheads from the crown.

Facts about an acorn woodpecker are interesting.

How cute are they?

These little acorn gathering birds are as cute as birds can get, with their small body and a black and white color pattern only adding to their overall cuteness.

How do they communicate?

Woodpeckers communicate through a unique form of communication which is called drumming. They peck on a resonant object rapidly and create sound patterns that are often done to attract mates or announce territories.

An acorn woodpecker call is usually a high-pitched call that includes rattling, twittering, chattering, screaming, and wailing. These are made by both sexes when occurrences like courtship, territorial disputes, or alarm calls are taking place.

How big is an acorn woodpecker?

The length of an acorn woodpecker ranges from 7.5-9.1 in (19-23.1 cm) in body length and has a wingspan of 5-6 in (13-15 cm).

How fast can an acorn woodpecker fly?

Due to a data deficiency, the speed at which an acorn woodpecker can fly is not known.

How much does an acorn woodpecker weigh?

These woodpeckers are light in weight and weigh between 2.3-3.2 oz (65.2-90.7 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

No specific name has been assigned to either sex of these birds.

What would you call a baby acorn woodpecker?

A baby acorn woodpecker is called a 'chick'.

What do they eat?

Acorn woodpeckers are omnivorous in nature and have a diet that consists of insects, fruits, seeds, eggs of other birds, and most importantly a large part of their diet is acorns.

Are they dangerous?

No, these woodpeckers are not dangerous to humans or animals. These birds will, however, bluff an attack on you by flying over you quite fiercely if you disturb the trees their acorns are in or touch their nests. This bluff can be intimidating but it is in no way harmful.

Would they make a good pet?

No, keeping woodpeckers as pets is illegal in most regions of North America and these birds are not at all suited to cage life.

Did you know...

In order to escape from predators, these birds use their strong claws to get to the underside of branches to hide.

Their skull is built to absorb shocks as these birds peck a tree from 8000 to 12,000 times a day. One granary tree might contain up to 50,000 holes that have been drilled over a long period and each hole has an acorn stored in it.

A sycamore tree in California houses 20,000 acorns stored by woodpeckers and this large amount of acorns has not even killed the tree.

A collective group of acorn woodpeckers is known as a 'bushel'.

Acorn woodpeckers use wood chips that they find inside of tree cavities instead of building nests.

Since acorn woodpeckers store acorns in trees, they do not migrate as they have a food source for winter.

Due to a lack of data, it is not known how long it takes an acorn woodpecker to make a hole or how many acorns it can store in a year.

Why do acorn woodpeckers store acorns?

Acorn woodpeckers spend most of their life collecting acorns and placing them in the holes of trees that they have drilled. Acorns make up a massive chunk of their diet and because of this, they store them in holes for the winter too. Acorn woodpeckers take turns guarding their acorns against squirrels, deers, and other animals that might want to steal them.

Where do acorn woodpeckers store acorns?

Acorn woodpeckers drill holes into trees in an attempt to store acorns in the tree for future use. In some regions of North America, acorn woodpeckers create acorn trees by drilling holes in tree branches. They also drill holes in living trees, creating an acorn woodpecker tree in the process which is called a 'granary tree'. These holes start higher up the tree in order to protect the acorns from land-dwellers. In contrary to popular belief, this process does not harm the trees, however, these holes might harm man-made utilities like electrical posts and antennas. Woodpeckers have a single nest in these trees and the social group guards the acorns and lets out alarms when they see a squirrel climb the tree.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including belted kingfisher, or yellow-billed cuckoo.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our woodpecker coloring pages.  

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