Readers’ wildlife photos

September 12, 2021 • 8:00 am

Today’s Sunday, and so we have a themed bird post from biologist John Avise. I particularly like this one as the birds are so interesting. John’s comments and IDs are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

Thanks to the five or six readers who sent me nice photos, which will keep us going for a while. Without further ado, Dr. Avise:

All For the Love of Acorns

The Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus) is aptly named because its life revolves around its mainstay food: acorns.  These gregarious birds live in small colonies that construct and defend “granaries”.  A granary is a tree into which the birds drill hundreds or thousands of holes into which they stuff harvested acorns for later consumption.  As the acorns dry and shrivel over time, the birds continually remove and place them into smaller holes so that they remain securely in storage for future use.  A granary tree is thus an extremely valuable resource that may even be “inherited” across multiple generations of Acorn Woodpeckers.  These birds also tend to nest communally with two or more females and several males sometimes sharing a nest.  This species also displays “helpers at the nest” which typically are offspring of earlier broods that remain to help rear nestlings in subsequent clutches.

Adult male:

Two males:

Adult female:

Another female:

Dorsal view of female:

Bird in flight showing white wing patches:

Granary tree:

Bird atop old granary stump:

Holding an acorn:

They also may use a telephone pole as a granary:

They also catch and eat insects on the wing:

Catching insects:

9 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. One of my most loved birds. I especially enjoy their song or call, which reminds me of old Woody Woopeckers raucous sound. Thanks for the lovely pictures.

  2. What wonderful photos! About 3-4? years ago, a genetic study came out showing – I believe – that the ACWO colonies are a group of closely related males and a group of closely related (to each other, not to the males) females. Kinda like seven brides for seven brothers.

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