Las Pilitas Nursery

California Native Plants are all we grow!

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3232 Las Pilitas Rd
Santa Margarita, CA 93453

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Acorn woodpecker Melanerpes formicivorus

When I visited A friend's house, I noticed a wonderfully designed stencil on the top of all their exterior walls. Thank goodness I looked a little closer before I complemented them. THEY WERE WOODPECKER HOLES!

Range of the Acorn woodpecker

The Acorn woodpecker is found in the western half of Oregon and California, and in Arizona, New Mexico and down throughout Mexico.

Diet of the Acorn woodpecker

The Acorn woodpecker needs a large family to collect and store enough acorns for the winter. Acorn woodpeckers do not feed exclusively on acorns. They also eat fruits, seeds, oak catkins, and insects. They can often be seen fly-catching. They also enjoy eating poison oak berries, (as do many other bird species). So, think twice before removing poison oak from your yard.

Migratory status of the Acorn woodpecker

The Acorn woodpecker does not migrate. The family must stay near its granary tree. However, it will move upslope in the fall

Habitat of the Acorn woodpecker

The Acorn woodpecker prefers areas with more than one species of oak. So that if one species has a bad year, they will have another source of food. They also prefer older forests and trees as these usually produce more acorns and contain more dead wood which they use for acorn storage and nest cavity. They also like to use pines as the wood is softer and the bark is thick and soft and can easily hold a lot of acorns.

Closed Cone Pine Forest

Lodgepole Pine Forest

Central Oak Woodland

Yellow Pine Forest

Northern Oak Woodland

Southern Oak Woodland

Mixed Evergreen Forest


Red Fir forest

Reproduction of the Acorn woodpecker

Only one or two pairs of Acorn woodpeckers in the group mate each year. The rest in the group help in incubation and feeding. It takes a village to raise a baby woodpecker?

The Acorn woodpecker nests in a cavity that they excavate themselves, usually in an old dead branch (snag) of pine or oak.

Niche filled by the Acorn woodpecker

The acorn woodpecker stores its acorns in a granary tree. This is usually a dead tree or a large old live tree with very thick bark. The Acorn woodpecker prefers to use pine trees for granaries and for nest cavities, as its wood is quite a bit softer than Oak. Do not be too worried about the survival of your Oaks and Pines. The acorn woodpecker usually only pokes holes through the bark. And they prefer trees that are already dead.

How to attract the acorn woodpecker to your garden

You can't just have one acorn woodpecker. You have to take him, or her, with his whole family. The acorn woodpecker lives in small gregarious flocks.

Large mature oaks seem to be the acorn woodpeckers favorite plant. However, they also like pines. To learn more about Oaks check out our Oak pages.

Placing a watering dish in your garden will also help to attract Acorn woodpeckers. They like to get water from puddles or baths rather then from their diet (berries fruit etc.) If you have cats then a bath (preferably a tall one) is more appropriate.

Learn more about California's flora from our front page.

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Check out the butterflies

A short video showing Acorn Wood Peckers at bird bath.