This Morning Outside

Redbelly Cache

Red-bellied Woodpecker

I'm wondering whether the Red-bellied Woodpecker will remember where she's stashing this acorn in a hole in a snag.

If not, then after the dead tree finally falls, maybe the acorn will sprout, along with a few others. They would be pretty much in a line, wouldn't they? And someday, when the log has rotted all away, someone might wonder about a line of same-aged oak trees in a row.

Stashing nuts away for winter use is almost a full-time job for woodpeckers in autumn.

We have only a few woodpeckers in North America who cache food like this. The more famous one is the Acorn Woodpecker, in western North America. But Red-bellies do it also. 


Oak tree feeds acorns to the bird. Bird puts drops acorns into dead oak trees. Lots of those acorns must get lost in there.

Happy result: more oak trees.

Seems like a good reason to leave dead trees standing, at least wherever they are not a hazard to people, buildings, or roads. Our woodpeckers need those trees. They're as valuable after they die as they are while actively growing.

— Diane Porter, Fairfield, Iowa, October 10, 2021