Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bird Photography Weekly #22

Also titled: "Save the Acorn Woodpeckers!"

Yesterday, Birdfreak tweeted (on Twitter) to sign a petition against the killing of Acorn Woodpeckers. It turns out that it's something I should have known about, but I haven't paid any attention to news lately. In addition, Wren beat me to it on the blogosphere :)

I should have known that just 50 miles away in a gated 'retirement' community, there has been a war against a bird that is a California Specialty. It's habitat is Oak and Pink-Oak Woodland which is a common ecosystem in California. These homes, like so many others in our populous state, are built in cleared woodlands. Clearly, the plants and animals were there first, so it would should learn to live with them instead of eradicating everything in our path.

To be fair, just two homeowners associations in all of Rossmoor-Walnut Creek have voted to kill the birds, Mutual 68 and Mutual 59. But can the others be far behind? Each HOA per the depredation permit issued by USFWS can kill up to 50 birds. Oh sure, one may say 50 isn't a lot in the grand scheme of things, but it is the principle of the matter. In addition, and the best point, it's a futile exercise as more acorn woodpeckers will fill the void and it will be an endless cycle. This is an eight-year problem for the Rossmoor residents and in 2007 they were granted permission to kill 15 Acorn Woodpeckers. A contractor from the USDA did that, and yet, the problem wasn't solved, and even escalated. (1)

The social system of the Acorn Woodpecker is a complex family unit. They have co-breeder males and joint-nesting females with helpers. These helpers don't reproduce, but they help in getting food for the young and caching the food. If any of the breeding woodpeckers die, are killed off, or just plain disappear, a helper takes its place in the system. Supposing this permit isn't rescinded and the Mutual goes ahead with their futile plan, they will quickly find themselves with nothing changed. In this picture below, you see two Acorn Woodpeckers stashing acorns (what else?) in their granary. I think the one below was there for quality control.

What I don't understand is how they can spend millions of dollars on stupid ideas when the Audubon California made them a great offer and is a wonderful source of advice. Ideas put forth are: putting up artificial granaries for their use; netting to be used to keep the birds off the structures; and my idea that surely isn't original... replace the materials which these birds are boring into with a non-wood substance. They have to be fixed anyway, so how about plastics and metal?

How can anyone look at this cute face and say we don't want your kind around here?

Here's a great blog from a local journalist, Gary Bogue, who cares. He has links to get more information and emails of officials to write to in protest! Thanks Gary!!!

He also put up a link to the Audubon California's petition that I signed and hope you will too.

This is the petition Birdfreak and Wren linked to. I signed that one and then looked for more info!

Please sign the petitions... and then head on over to more to check out more bird photos.

Corny here wants you to!

Look how pissed off he is at those Rossmoor residents! ;)

1. Granados, Diana (2009 February). Rossmoor Acorn Woodpecker Update the Quail. Retrieve Jan 31, 2009 from


Mary said...

Good job, Red. I signed that petition today. People are lazy...there has to be a better option. I'd hate to see Corny go...


Red said...

Thank you Mary!

Vickie said...

Thanks for the post and information. I signed both petitions.

Mary C said...

Way to go, Red. And to think you weren't much into birding a year ago! ;o) And now you are an advocate for our feathered friends. :) Cool! Way cool!

Red said...

Thanks Vickie and Mom!

Hey, we've always been conservationists through our conservative roots... i guess the term is now crunchy-cons...

Leedra said...

How can a bird be killed? I thought they were all protected unless they were brought from another country. I don't see that to be the case according to my reference books.

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Red said...

The Fish and Wildlife service unfairly granted a permit to kill them :(


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