Acorn Woodpecker
Melanerpes formicivorus -San Luis Obispo, California, USA -male-8
Male in California, USA
Melanerpes formicivorus -Madera Canyon, Arizona, USA -female-8-2c
Female in Arizona, USA
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Inopinaves
Clade: Afroaves
Clade: Picocoraciae
Clade: Picodynastornithes
Order: Piciformes
Suborder: Pici
Family: Picidae
Subfamily: Picinae
Tribe: Melanerpini
Genus: Melanerpes
Species: M. formicivorus
Binomial name
Melanerpes formicivorus
(Swainson, 1827)
File:Acorn Woodpecker distribution.png
Range of M. formicivorus

The Acorn Woodopecker, Melanerpes formicivorus is a species of woodpecker (Picidae).

Other names

Ant-eating woodpecker [2], Mearns' woodpecker [2], California woodpecker [2] [3].


A black and white woodpecker. Black chin, yellowish throat, white cheeks and forehead, red cap.[4]. Female has smaller bill than male and has less red on crown (top of the head) [4]. In flight, it shows a white rump and wing patches that are conspicuous [4].

Similar species



The acorn woodpecker mainly feeds on acorns. However, it will also feed on almonds, walnuts, and pecans; in California, in competition for food with Lewis's woodpeckers; during summer it eats mostly insects, often taken on the wing -- grasshoppers, ants, beetles, flies; also takes occasional fruit such as cherries, apples, figs, also green corn [5]; a major food especially in June and July is tree sap from small holes it drills in branches of live oaks [6] also from the holes dug by sapsuckers [5] [2].


Its most common call is waka [4] repeated several times; or, according to Peterson (1961), whack-up, whack-up, whack or ja-cob, ja-cob [3].




  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Melanerpes formicivorus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d Terres, John K. (1980). The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. ISBN 0394466519. 
  3. ^ a b Peterson, Roger Tory (1961). A Field Guide to the Western Birds. Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 039513692X. 
  4. ^ a b c d Dunn, Jon L. and Alderfer, Jonathan (2006). National Geographic Guide to the Birds of North America. National Geographic Society. ISBN 1426200722. 
  5. ^ a b Bent, Arthur C. Life Histories of North American woodpeckers(1939) U.S. Natl. Mus. Bull. no. 174. Washington, D.C.
  6. ^ MacRoberts, M.H. Notes on the food habits and food defense of the acorn woodpecker. (1970). Condor. 72:196-204.

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