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Acorn woodpecker

Melanerpes formicivorus
Photo by Steve Ryan (Wikipedia)

Common name:
acorn woodpecker (en); pica-pau-das-bolotas (pt); pic glandivore (fr); carpintero bellotero (es); eichelspecht (de)

Order Piciformes
Family Picidae

This species is found from north- western Oregon and California, in the United States, through western Mexico and across Central America down to northern Colombia.

These birds are 19-24 cm long and have a wingspan of 35-43 cm. They weigh 65-90 g.

The acorn woodpecker is mostly found in oak and pine-oak woodlands, but also in riparian corridors, Douglas firs, redwood and tropical hardwood forests as long as oaks are available nearby. They can also be found in urban parks with plenty of oak trees. They typically occur at altitudes of 1.000-3.300 m, but may be found at lower altitudes.

These birds are omnivorous. They eat various insects, including ants, butterflies, flies, aphids, leafhoppers, beetles and bugs. They also eat the acorns of various oaks, which are form the bulk of their winter diet. Other items in their diet include sap, oak catkins, fruits, flower nectar and even small lizards, mammals and bird eggs and chicks.

Acorn woodpeckers breed in April-June. Some populations are monogamous while others are polygynous, in which case all females lay their eggs in the same nest cavity. The nest is a cavity drilled into a large dead or living limb of a tree, up to 7,5 m above the ground. Each female lays 2-4 white eggs which are incubated by both parents for 11 days. All group members provide food for the chicks, who fledge 30-32 days after hatching.

IUCN status – LC (Least concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population estimated at 4 million individuals. In North America, the population has undergone a small increase over the last four decades.

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