Beautiful, Bizarre Acorn Woodpeckers: Article
- World Authority to Speak on Acorn Woodpeckers:
Beautiful, Bizarre, and Ubiquitous
by Kate Marianchild
Most of us have seen the beautiful birds that flash through our oak trees with white-windowed wings. Many have noticed their red, yellow, black, and white heads and heard their laughter-like calls. Some have noticed the nest cavities in trees with an upper and a lower hole. But how many people have noticed that three adults are sometimes lined up at a nest hole waiting to feed the young?
Among bird populations it is quite rare that babies are fed by non-parents. But that is not the only strange fact about acorn woodpeckers. They have an utterly bizarre mating system, they harvest and share food communally, and they defend territory communally.
We will have the unparalleled opportunity to learn more fascinating facts about the complex social behavior of these clown-headed birds from Walt Koenig on Thursday, October 21, 7 p.m. at the Grace Hudson Museum's Public Room.
Walt Koenig is a research zoologist at UC Berkeley who has been studying acorn woodpeckers for thirty years. He has even adopted and raised orphaned birds, contributing to his knowledge of the species. Mr. Koenig is the author of Population Ecology of the Co-operatively Breeding Acorn Woodpecker, a book which describes a unique system of "co-breeding males," "joint-nesting females," and non-breeding helpers of both sexes. But before you conclude that this successful avian social structure should serve as a role model for humans, come hear Mr. Koenig speak. You'll be amazed to hear about egg-destroying females and sibling-group power struggles!
So put down your spy-thriller novel for the evening and enjoy a slideshow/lecture on the real-life drama occurring all around us! We welcome you to join us on Tuesday, October 21, 7 p.m. at the Grace Hudson Museum's Public Room, 431 South Main St. Ukiah. After the slideshow we will have the special opportunity to browse the exhibit of Pomo baskets in the Grace Hudson Museum itself. Some of these baskets incorporate the feathers of acorn woodpeckers. Admission is free. See you there! Sponsored by Peregrine Audubon Society.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]