A Woodpecker's Work: 100 Years and 50,000 Acorns

Robert Kiernan

I'm sending this because of the photo of immature trogan it's in the beginning of letter I did not  know how to send just photo

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Tucson Audubon Society <info@...>
Date: Sat, Nov 5, 2022, 5:03 AM
Subject: A Woodpecker's Work: 100 Years and 50,000 Acorns
To: Mr. Robert P. Kiernan Kiernan <photobirder@...>

Acorn Woodpecker by Greg Lavaty

Inspiring people to enjoy and protect birds


Rare Birds at the Paton Center's Cuckoo Corridor

A pair of adult Gray Hawks has lingered along Sonoita Creek into November, unusually late for them. They are frequently heard at the Paton Center and occasionally seen flying over head.

We’ve had an influx of sapsuckers, mostly the expected Red-naped but also one with too much red on the head for that species, though not enough red for a Red-breasted Sapsucker — in other words an apparent hybrid. A Tucson Audubon field trip also turned up a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, a rare visitor from the east.

A rarer sighting still was that of a Winter Wren on the morning of October 31 in the Cuckoo Corridor. While searching the area in hopes of re-finding the wren early that evening a locally very rare and unexpected juvenile male Elegant Trogon appeared!

These rarities were found on the five-acre parcel along Sonoita Creek that Tucson Audubon acquired about four years ago and has been tirelessly restoring, purging non-native Johnson grass and planting native species. This 0.4 mile loop trail is located across the road from the Paton Center parking lot, between the private road called Gray Hawk Trail and the dry Sonoita Creek bed. Check out the Corridor on your next visit!
-Louie Dombroski, Paton Center Birder-In-Residence

A rare combo at the Paton Center: Winter Wren by Alan Schmierer and
juvenile male Elegant Trogon by Scott Olmstead.

Share Your Saguaro Stories with Us!

Saguaro Short Story Competition

Tucson Audubon is undertaking a massive, 3-year effort to replant 14,000 saguaros to help secure a future for these icons of the Sonoran Desert and all the wildlife that depends on them.

How do saguaros inspire you? Share your saguaro stories with us this month to help get our community excited about our giant cactus friends. We'll feature your work on our website and each story has a chance at being published in the next Vermilion Flycatcher magazine!

Submit your story here

Kids and Families—Join us for another "Morning en el Parque" on Saturday, November 12!

Join Tucson Audubon, Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation, and other partners every 2nd Saturday for "Morning in the Park" at Desert Haven Natural Resource Park.

Find lots of family fun and kid activities to help you learn about and enjoy our desert. See you there!

Learn to Identify Birds with Confidence!

Join Tucson Audubon for virtual and in-person events.

TODAY Saturday, November 5, 10-11 am
Adventures in Birding with Luke Safford
Location: Green Valley Recreation West Social Center (MAP)

This event is free to attend. No registration required.

TODAY Saturday, Nov. 5, 9 pm at 191 Toole
Eden: A burlesque show that explores plants between science and fiction

A portion of ticket sales will be donated to Tucson Audubon. Stop by our booth and learn about our saguaro planting project!
Learn more about the event

Friday, November 11, 11 am-12 pm
Tips on Identifying Birds with Luke Safford

Have you ever spotted an interesting bird only to become frustrated because you can’t figure out what species it is? We’ve all been there! Let’s move from being frustrated to finding enjoyment in the process of identification. You will be encouraged to send pictures to Luke ahead of time to be used in the class so that we can work through the identification process together with real life bird ID issues.
Register for this free virtual event

See all of the upcoming Birds & Community events


November SALES:

All clearance items are an extra 20% off red sticker prices

Home Goods and Decor - 20% off

Zeiss + Kowa Optics - Special Pricing for members only
Zeiss SFL40 (see below) and Kowa BDII42 for $380

Nature Shop hours are Wed–Fri 10am–4pm and Sat & Tues 10am–2pm. MAP

Our Online Nature Shop is ALWAYS OPEN. Shop now at tucsonaudubonnatureshop.com

Zeiss Victory SFL 8x40

The new compact SFL 40 is exciting for birders and nature lovers of all kinds, with maximum optical performance and an incredibly lightweight design.

The newest member in the Zeiss family. Surprisingly lightweight and powerful.

Holiday Member Price $1,650

Available ONLY at our Nature Shop


Acorn Woodpecker at granary by Alan Schmierer

Get to Know the Acorn Woodpecker

Treat yourself to a fun bird watching activity that can only be done along the US west coast, the southwest, and down into the highlands of Mexico and Central America: viewing an Acorn Woodpecker family group! These groups of the conspicuous, clown-faced, acorn-storing woodpeckers usually consist of more than a dozen birds cooperatively raising young in pine-oak woodlands of North America. The species is best known for storing acorns in individually drilled holes in storage trees called granaries, which is unique to this species. Storing the food source for the winter, the holes do not compromise living trees—a good thing since granaries of up to 50,000 holes have been found! Even more amazing is the time it took to drill that many holes: studies estimate a family group might take over 100 years to achieve that! Group members periodically check the fit of stored acorns as they dry out and move them to smaller holes to keep a tight fit. Acorn Woodpeckers are highly territorial in defending this precious food resource and each primary and secondary granary has guards that alert the group with their comical waka waka waka calls when birds and other animals invade.

Although acorns are a major portion of the Acorn Woodpecker winter diet, throughout the year the species also forages on seeds, sap, and insects by flycatching and bark-gleaning. Overall, the birds are non-migratory, but when groups eat through their stores, they often abandon their territories and wander in search of other food sources. Interestingly, a unique local population near the Huachuca Mountains is a regular migrant and undertakes a completely different breeding strategy. These birds do not create granaries and in most years they run out of food and leave until spring when adults return to reoccupy their previous territories where cooperative breeding is absent. 

Among most Acorn Woodpeckers, cooperative breeding is the norm with family groups containing 1–8 male breeders, 1–4 egg-laying females, and up to 10 male and female non-breeding helpers. In groups with more than one breeding female, all eggs are laid into a single nest cavity and any existing eggs are usually destroyed until all the females are laying simultaneously. Unbelievably, more than one third of all eggs laid in joint nests are destroyed.

In Southeast Arizona, look for Acorn Woodpeckers in the oak woodlands of all the Sky Island ranges. Near Tucson, Bear Canyon in the Catalinas and Madera Canyon in the Santa Ritas are excellent spots, and even Reid Park has had one bird wintering the last few years!

For more woodpecker fun, watch the excellent new Nature episode.

Sources: Birdsoftheworld.org, Allaboutbirds.org, Whatbird.com, eBird.org, and personal observations.

Happy Birding! 

Matt Griffiths
Communications Coordinator

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