Feathered friends (or feathered annoyances)


Site Champ
Aug 15, 2020
Catskill Mountains
Here's something I didn't know about acorn woodpeckers. They will apparently down tools, leave their own turf (and thousands of stashed acorns) temporarily unguarded and rush miles away just to watch some of their fellow species members go to war with each other over turf that has come up for grabs due to death or other disappearance of the previously dominant woodpecker and his or her famlly and followers.

Acorn woodpeckers are renowned food hoarders. Every fall they stash as many as thousands of acorns in holes drilled into dead tree stumps in preparation for winter. Guarding these “granary trees” against acorn theft is a fierce, familial affair. But all hell breaks loose when there are deaths in a family and newly vacant spots in prime habitat are up for grabs.
The news travels fast. Nearby woodpecker groups rush to the site and fight long, gory battles until one collective wins, according to a study published Monday in Current Biology. These wars also draw woodpecker audiences, the researchers reported, who leave their own territories unattended, demonstrating the immense investment and risks the birds are willing to take in pursuit of better breeding opportunities and intelligence gathering.