Acorn Woodpeckers (Melanerpes formicivorus) nest on my property here in Northern California. They are conspicuous, gregarious and a joy to watch. Click on photos for full sized images.
This woodpecker is a cooperative breeder and lives in family groups of up to a dozen or more individuals. This is an adult male sticking his head out of a natural cavity in a Gray Pine snag. Note the eye color.
These family groups forage together and the adults always bring their young to my feeding station and water feature to teach them the finer details of what it is to be an Acorn Woodpecker. This is their typical call.
The young Acorn Woodpecker, like thisyoungster approaching the water feature for a drink, begins its life with dark irises.
He’s not sure of what he is doing but their are several adults nearby watching him and calling to him.
The juvenile’s scarlet crown extends from its nape to its white forehead patch, similar to the adult male’s.
Here you can see the white upper tail coverts and conspicuous wing patches that are most obvious during flight.
The dark eyes of the young fledgling quickly lighten to the sky blue seen in the top photograph and by the end of the its prebasic molt (2 to 4 months post fledging) the irises are pale yellow to white like the adult’s.
These photos of the dark eyed bird were taken just three weeks before the top photo, which I believe is the same individual juvenile bird.
It’s quite the transformation don’t you think?
This is a video I took a few years ago of several Acorn Woodpeckers clowning around at my feeding station.
Also check out the great video by National Geographic on the Acorn Woodpecker and their nut stashing at the top right of the page.