Acorn woodpeckers are virtually unmistakable (although nothing is unmistakable until you’ve had some practice) and probably the bird I find most fun to watch around the center of campus (I’d vote that the Acorn woodpecker be the official Stanford bird, but no has asked me yet). You can often see these black and white birds with red and creamy yellow on their heads traveling up and down palm and oak trees. As their name indicates the eat lots of acorns, but they nest and store food in palm trees (some granary trees have up to 60,000 acorns). Probably the best place to look for Acorn woodpeckers is on the trunks of the many palm trees around campus and in oak woodlands.
You’ll usually see more than one because Acorn woodpeckers are social birds, living in extended families. The sight of Acorn woodpeckers always makes me a bit happier and I usually am able to see them on my bike ride home (in the mornings they seem to be less active).
To hear the it’s call–described as a “waka-waka-waka), visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s page on the acorn woodpecker.If you want to know more about birds of the Stanford campus you can take a look at the Stanford Birds website or just start looking around and see what you see.