If you’ve spent any time at Asilomar, you’ve probably already heard this sound. (sound of woodpecker call) Or this one. (sound of woodpecker call) That’s an Acorn Woodpecker hammering away, drilling small holes to store acorns, or large ones in which to nest and raise its young. Retired State Park Environmental Scientist Lorrie Madison:
..it can take as long as three months for an acorn woodpecker to dig out a really great hole the female selects the site and the male begins digging it out and then the female finishes it off. A lot of time and investment in creating a nesting cavity. Just like us. [laughs]
These red-capped birds find their acorns in the coast live oak trees, but generally store them in holes drilled in the softer bark of the Monterey pines. Look for these “granary trees” – some have as many as 3,000 holes in them! As you walk around the grounds, you might even see granary holes in a lamppost.
The adults spend about a quarter of their time taking care of the granary tree, filling it up …protecting it from would-be theft…
As older acorns lose water and shrink, the woodpecker will move them to smaller holes, freeing up larger holes for new acorns. Like an elephant, an acorn woodpecker never forgets -- where it’s stored an acorn.