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Acorn Woodpecker – Visitor to Our Backyard

2 4 11 woodpeckers (7)

Look at that beak! We were surprised when we looked out the window a few days ago and we saw three woodpeckers in our backyard. They were large birds and very colorful. They looked a little different than our “normal” woodpeckers so we had to look them up to identify them for sure.

We decided it is an Acorn woodpecker.

2 4 11 woodpeckers (1)

This beautiful bird is welcome in our yard at any time.

Here is a link to All About Birds for the Acorn Woodpecker.
We found a coloring page that will help us draw this bird in our nature journals.

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Trees Do Fall Down in the Woods

Red Shack 10 6 10 (9) Tree Down

Now this could pose a problem…..a big pine tree down across our hiking trail.

Red Shack 10 6 10 (11) Acorns in the trunk

We actually noticed before that this particular tree is *full* of acorn holes where the woodpeckers have made a huge storehouse of acorns in the trunk. We think this is what led to the demise of this big tree. That looks like a fresh acorn inside the hole.

Red Shack 10 6 10 (12) Acorn holes

When it fell, big pieces of the bark came off and exposed all the acorn holes. We climbed up and over to continue our hike. The dog decided to crawl underneath but either way it worked.

Red Shack 10 6 10 (1) Paper Wasp

Further down the trail my son spotted this section of a wasp nest on the trail. These are amazing creations and hard to believe that an insect made this out of their spit and plant fibers. Once again the Handbook of Nature Study helped us to learn a little bit more about the process of building the nest on page 381 (Lesson 95). The whole section is fascinating…here is an excerpt:

“The nest is of paper made of bits of wood which the wasps pull off with their jaws from weather-worn fences or boards. This wood is reduced to pulp by saliva which is secreted from the wasp’s mouth, and is laid on in little layers which can be easily seen by examining the outside of the nest.” Handbook of Nature Study, page 381.

Red Shack 10 6 10 (8) Some sort of gall

We also noticed these puffy growths on the oak branches along the trail. We thought maybe they were some sort of gall. I am still working on figuring out what exactly they are so if anyone has any ideas, I would appreciate an email.

It is nice to be out hiking again as the weather is cooling down a bit. My sons have been down off and on this week with a cold/flu. Mr. A said it was nice to get out and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine and I know it always makes me feel better too.

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Truly Beautiful Birds: Woodpeckers

We decided that woodpeckers are very beautiful birds. The two kinds we see most frequently are Acorn woodpeckers and White-Headed woodpeckers and although they are mostly black and white, they are truly lovely to look at.

“The clown-faced Acorn Woodpecker is a common bird of western oak forests. It lives in extended family groups, and all members of the group spend hours and hours storing thousands of acorns in carefully tended holes in trees and telephone poles.”

All About Birds, Acorn Woodpecker listing

Woodpecker holes in the birch tree
This tree is at my dad’s house and it has about a zillion holes in it from woodpeckers. He is plagued with woodpeckers pecking on the side of his house.

Acorn woodpecker-age 8
I found this old nature journal entry made for our backyard woodpecker….makes me smile.

Here is our previous entry for black and white birds which included some woodpeckers: Outdoor Hour Challenge: Black and White Birds

Here is another black and white bird that we see and it always amazes me…the magpie.

What a great tail this bird has and he makes a funny noise when he walks along.

We have been keeping track of birds in our yard this week as part of this challenge.

Here is our list:

Western bluebirds

Western scrub jays
House sparrows
Anna’s hummingbirds
Juncos (under the feeder)-just returned
White-crowned sparrows (under the feeder) -just returned

We heard a crow and a mockingbird as well.

We don’t have as much variety in our feeders or yard at this time of the year. The bird variety picks up as the winter marches on and by the time of the Great Backyard Bird Count, we are in full swing.

No woodpecker sightings this week but we enjoyed watching the birds we did have in our yard.