This woodpecker with the clown-like face (though I think they are quite handsome) is an Acorn Woodpecker, unusual not only in looks from other woodpecker species but from their communal living and food storage. The ‘All About Birds’ website summarizes this quite nicely:
- “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. “
Also unusual about this species, the offspring of Acorn Woodpeckers stick around to help their parents raise a few more nestings of young. The trees in which they store their acorns are called ‘grainary’ trees and just one of these may have more than 50,000 storage holes!
The photo just above is one I took of a male Acorn Woodpecker carrying an acorn in it’s bill to the granary tree in Pueblo Mountain Park in Colorado. This is a new population that is part of a range expansion Acorn Woodpeckers that are usually found mostly from western Oregon through California, parts of Arizona and New Mexico and into west Texas as well as into Mexico.
And the photo just above here, also taken at Pueblo Mountain Park, shows that same male as he works on storing an acorn. I took the photo below and those close-up photos above at Ash Canyon B & B in Hereford, AZ where they can be seen up close as they come in to the feeders maintained there and open to birders with a small donation to cover bird food. Note: that is also the location where I photographed the Lucifier Hummingbird that I wrote about on this site earlier this month.