Skip to main content

Acorn Woodpecker

ID Info
Silhouette WoodpeckersWoodpeckers
Acorn WoodpeckerMelanerpes formicivorus
  • ORDER: Piciformes
  • FAMILY: Picidae

Basic Description

Reminiscent of a troupe of wide-eyed clowns, Acorn Woodpeckers live in large groups in western oak woodlands. Their social lives are endlessly fascinating: they store thousands of acorns each year by jamming them into specially made holes in trees. A group member is always on alert to guard the hoard from thieves, while others race through the trees giving parrotlike waka-waka calls. Their breeding behavior is equally complicated, with multiple males and females combining efforts to raise young in a single nest.

More ID Info
image of range map for Acorn Woodpecker
Range map provided by Birds of the World
Explore Maps

Find This Bird

Acorn Woodpeckers are usually pretty easy to find if you take a short walk through open oak or pine-oak forests in their range. Listen for their loud, parrotlike squawks and look for Acorn Woodpeckers perched atop bare treetops. In flight, pay attention to the pattern of three black-and-white flashes—one on each wing, plus the white rump. Keep an eye on the trees as you walk, and you might find one riddled with acorn-filled holes all the way up the trunk and main branches. This is the granary tree, the main food storage “pantry” created and used by communal groups of these fascinating woodpeckers.

Other Names

  • Carpintero Bellotero (Spanish)
  • Pic glandivore (French)

Backyard Tips

Acorn Woodpeckers may visit seed and suet feeders near oak woodlands within their range. If Acorn Woodpeckers have discovered your wood siding and begun making holes in it, they can be very difficult to get rid of. People have had some success with hanging strips of shiny ribbon from the eaves or putting balloons in front of the siding to scare the birds away; the surest fix is to switch to an impenetrable siding material. Here's more about keeping away woodpeckers.

  • Cool Facts