Iridescent Glossy-black Is Coupled With A Finely Streaked Chest. He Tops His Unique Look Off With A Highly Distinctive Face Pattern And Vivid Red Cap – Meet The Acorn Woodpecker!
The acorn woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus) has a brownish-black head, back, wings and tail. He also has a white forehead, throat, belly, and rump. He tops his look off by wearing a bright red cap that starts on his forehead. But it is his white neck, throat, and forehead which are the main identifiers. His eyes are white, and there is a small patch of green feathers on his back. These birds have a call that almost sounds like human laughter.
Females of this species have a black area between the forehead and the cap.
The acorn woodpecker is a resident bird in the foothills of Oregon, California, and the southwestern United States, south through Central America to Colombia.
This species may occur at low elevations in the north of its range, but rarely below 1,000 m (3,300 ft) in Central America.
These birds prefer habitats with areas with oaks in the coastal areas and foothills of mainly in Oregon and California.
Acorn woodpeckers, as their name implies, depend heavily on acorns for food. Acorns are such an important resource to the California populations that acorn woodpeckers may nest in the fall to take advantage of the fall acorn crop, a rare behavior in birds. Acorn woodpeckers also feed on insects, sap, and fruit. They can be seen sallying from tree limbs to catch insects, eating fruit and seeds, and drilling holes to drink the sap.
Field studies have shown that Acorn Woodpeckers breeding groups range from monogamous pairs to breeding collectives, sometimes called “coalitions”. Cooperative breeding is a relatively rare evolutionary trait that is thought to occur in only nine percent of bird species. Cooperative breeding occurs in two ways: coalitions and family groups. Adult offspring often stay in their parents’ nests and help raise the next generation of woodpeckers. Breeding coalitions consist of up to seven co-breeding males and up to three joint-nesting females. However, most nests are made up of only three males and two females. Nesting groups can also contain up to ten offspring helpers. These breeding coalitions are typically closely related. The males are often brothers, and the females are usually sisters. Inbreeding is rare, however, meaning that co-breeders of the opposite sex are almost never related. In groups with more than one breeding female, the females put their eggs into a single nest cavity. A female usually destroys any eggs in the nest before she starts to lay. Once all the females start to lay, they stop removing eggs. Young from a single brood have been found with multiple paternity.
Just as are most species today, the Acorn Woodpeckers are threatened by habitat loss and degradation.