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Acorn Woodpecker Melanerpes formicivorus


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Acorn Woodpecker, male
credit: marlin harms/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Picidae, Woodpeckers view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has mainly black upperparts, but note striking white lower back and rump. Underparts are mainly white, but with black chest and dark streaking on flanks. Head pattern comprises black at base of bill, and from eye surround to nape, red crown and white forehead, cheeks, and throat. In flight, note white patch at base of primaries. ADULT FEMALE Similar, but crown is black at front and red at rear. JUVENILE Similar, but has darker eye and entirely red crown in both sexes.

Dimensions Length: 8-9 1/2" (20-24 cm)

Habitat Common resident in oak and oak-pine woodland.

Observation Tips Usually easy to find.

Range California, Rocky Mountains, Texas, Southwest, Northwest

Voice Utters a screeching wee-er, wee-erÖ or a chattering waka-waka-waka.

Discussion Boldly marked woodpecker, easily recognized by combination of striking white iris and red on the crown. Renowned and named for its acorn larders, neatly wedged in holes drilled in tree trunks. Often lives communally, with nonbreeding "helpers" aiding nest duties. Aerial sorties often employed to catch flying insects. Sexes are dissimilar.