The Acorn Woodpecker is one of the world’s most interesting birds. It lives in groups and has developed an unusual practice of storing thousands of acorns in holes they specially drill in the bark and dead limbs of trees—called “granary” trees. As the acorns age, they shrink, so the woodpeckers check them and occasionally relocate them to tighter holes to prevent them from falling out. These birds live in groups so they can keep an eye out for acorn thieves, such as squirrels. It has a distinctive parrot-like call.
The Acorn Woodpecker has been on our wish list for years. It’s range reaches a few hundred miles south of our usual birding locations, so we needed to do a bit of traveling to find them. This winter, while visiting Southern California we got some helpful tips for finding them from a park ranger and were able to make our first sightings in the Santa Monica Mountains. Here are some photos of this amazing bird and the granaries they create.