The Acorn Woodpecker, found in the southwestern U.S., has the unique habit of drilling small holes in trees and storing an acorn in each hole. This species (particularly in California) lives in cooperative groups that include several breeding adults with several non breeding helpers, and all contribute to making holes and gathering acorns. Acorns are gathered and stored in the fall to be consumed during the winter when few other food sources are available. This allows the birds to remain on their territory through the winter, and to be healthy enough to breed in the spring. The success of a breeding group is related to how many acorns they can store. Holes are drilled in dead limbs or in thick bark, so as not to injure the tree, and they are reused each year. A relatively small number of new holes are added each year and a group of woodpeckers builds up a large storage capacity over time. A typical storage tree with four thousand holes could take over eight years to create, longer than most Acorn Woodpeckers live. The record - an estimated fifty thousand holes in one tree - probably took more than one hundred years to make!
(From What It's Like To Be a Bird by David Allen Sibley)
In our backyard, we provide suet feeders for our resident woodpeckers. Yesterday, I observed at least three eating at one time from the hanging feeder while two more watched and waited for their turn.
This painting is inspired by these colorful fellows. I so enjoy their characteristic chatter as they move about our backyard!
This painting measures 4.75 x 3 inches and is available here: