Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Decoying acorn woodpeckers
Can you fool acorn woodpeckers to use a fakey-looking granary?
If you don't know about woodpecker granaries -- they are the pinnacle of the acorn woodpeckers craft -- live or dead trees and limbs riddled with holes stuffed with acorns.
They are such curiosities that outdoorsy Californians snatch up fallen chunks to decorate their gardens and homes.
When there's a shortage of granaries the woodpeckers get in trouble.
I have plenty of oaks around my house, but no woodpecker granary.
Noisy peckers visit, but fly off with their booty.
I sometimes awake in the dead of night wondering -- would the local peckers adopt a man-made granary?
How picky are they about the age and density of the wood?
How high would I have to hang the thing?
In November I finally got the lead out and built a fake woodpecker granary.
For a pilot test I drilled holes of 4 sizes in a 4-foot length of dead canyon live oak.
Then I put the granddaughters to work collecting acorns -- tanbark oak, Canyon live oak, and black oak.
Stuffed the holes.
Hung it near the house on a black oak.
The camera trap took 44 photos in 8 days and then the batteries died.
Ignorant of the power failure and with hopes periodically kindled by the endearing rukka-rukka of calling peckers, I waited another 20 days.
Only one woodpecker was photographed, and only barely as you can see.
There may have been others triggering the camera, but if so, they stuck to the other side of the log.
I'll keep that in mind the next time I set the camera.