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Acorn woodpecker        Images © Mark A. Chappell

Most people who spend time in oak woodlands or nearby pine forests in California or Arizona are familiar with acorn woodpeckers.   They are very obvious birds, with flashy clown-faced plumage, frequent flycatching or display flights, and loud, raucous calls.   In some parts of their range they also have fascinating social systems -- they defend territories as a group instead of a mated pair, cooperate in rearing offspring (but with severe competition among females for egg-laying privileges), and work together to store acorns in 'grainary trees' with thousands of acorns stuffed individually into neat holes drilled into the bark.   The bird in the image immediately below at left was flycatching in coast live oaks at the Santa Rosa Plateau, near Temecula, California; the woodpecker to its right was in the Chiricahua Mountains in southeastern Arizona, and all the others were in Carr Canyon in the Huachuca Mountains near Sierra Vista, Arizona.

  • Canon 10D, 1D Mk. II, 1D4, or 7D2; 500 mm f4 IS lens plus 2X converter or 800 mm IS lens plus 1.4X converter; fill-in flash (2004, 2011, 2016)