The Clever Food Storage Strategies of the Red-headed Woodpecker

While driving along the auto tour road at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma, I spotted a Red-headed Woodpecker perched high up in a tree. I pulled over quickly and began taking photographs from inside my truck. The woodpecker was diligently pecking at the bark when it suddenly extracted a nut, resembling a pecan. After retrieving the nut, the bird flew away.

Red-headed Woodpecker With A Nut
Red-headed Woodpecker With A Nut

Red-headed Woodpeckers are known for their food storage behavior. They gather and hide nuts in a central location, called a larder. This allows them to collect and stockpile nuts before other animals, like squirrels and other birds, can access them. Later, they strategically move and scatter the nuts in various locations, making it harder for competitors to discover and steal their entire hidden stash.

These resourceful birds store a variety of items, including acorns, beechnuts, corn kernels, and even insects like grasshoppers and crickets. They favor crevices in wood posts, tree cavities, natural cracks, fence posts, railroad ties, and even undersides of house shingles. Additionally, Red-headed Woodpeckers are known to hammer acorns into tight crevices, making them almost impossible for other animals to remove. They are also skilled at concealing their stored food by covering it with wood chips or bark, further protecting it from hungry competitors.

Image Information:

  • Date: 03/02/24
  • Time: 8:00 AM
  • Camera: Canon EOS R7
  • Lens: Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM
  • ISO: 500
  • Aperture: 8
  • Shutter: 1/800
  • Exp. Comp.: 0
  • Lens (mm): 500
  • Program Mode: Manual