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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Acorn Woodpecker -- Melanerpes formicivorus


RANGE: Resident west of the Cascade and Sierra Nevada Mountains from northwestern Oregon south through California to southern Baja California; and from northern Arizona, northern New Mexico, and western Texas south through the highlands of Central America to Colombia.

STATUS: Common within its range.

HABITAT: Inhabits mixed pine-oak woodlands and adjacent open grasslands along the Pacific Coast and the Southwest.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Oak trees to provide food and large snags that provide sites for nesting, roosting, and food storage.

NEST: Excavates cavities in pine snags, living and dead oaks, sycamores, cottonwoods, and willows for nesting and roosting. May use the same cavity for several years. Nests communally and all birds of a community assist in feeding young.

FOOD: Mostly consumes acorns, which are stored in holes drilled in communal trees. Also consumes sap from oaks from midwinter to summer, and hawks insects when available.

REFERENCES: Beal 1911, MacRoberts 1970, MacRoberts and MacRoberts 1976, Oberholser 1974a.


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