Watch these acorn woodpeckers decorate trees with nuts

These birds carefully place thousands of acorns in the bark of trees ... and guard them fiercely!
"I think there's some room over here ..." (ID 167305384 © Steven Cukrov |

There's nothing like getting the chance to decorate your living space. Adding a poster, a few photographs, or a piece of art really says, "This is my place!"

And it turns out that humans aren't the only animals that feel this way.

Acorn woodpeckers 'bedazzle' the bark of oak trees with hundreds, even thousands, of acorns. The effect is very beautiful and curious. Almost as though a painter had visited the tree and used it as a canvas for a sprawling, polka dot masterpiece!

Of course, as much as we'd love to think that these birds are indulging their inner Picassos, there is a very practical purpose to what they're doing.

Winter stores

"Can't talk! I've got a nut to place!" (Wikimedia Commons)

The acorn woodpeckers are storing the nuts as food for the coming winter. A tree full of nuts is known as a granary tree. And these North American birds will go to great efforts to care for their stash, too.

First comes the maintenance.

The nuts dry and shrink over time. This means that what was once a tight fit can become looser, leaving each nut in danger of falling out. So the birds must revisit and test each one. If a nut can't be wedged back into place, then they have to find a new hole for it to live in!

Second is the security.

Whether it's squirrels, other birds, or even other acorn woodpeckers, there are plenty of animals that are keen on stealing acorns. The woodpeckers must work as a team, staying on lookout and driving these invaders away to keep their food safe!

It's a lot of work, but the payoff is pretty huge. Successfully storing and protecting the granary means full bird bellies all winter long. Not to mention giving us a unique and beautiful piece of tree art to appreciate!

Watch these amazing birds in action in the video below!

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