Posted by: Sandy Steinman | September 15, 2020

In This Woodpecker Kingdom, War Is a Spectator Sport – The New York Times

The New York Times reports

Acorn woodpeckers are renowned food hoarders. Every fall they stash as many as thousands of acorns in holes drilled into dead tree stumps in preparation for winter. Guarding these “granary trees” against acorn theft is a fierce, familial affair. But all hell breaks loose when there are deaths in a family and newly vacant spots in prime habitat are up for grabs.

The news travels fast. Nearby woodpecker groups rush to the site and fight long, gory battles until one collective wins, according to a study published Monday in Current Biology. These wars also draw woodpecker audiences, the researchers reported, who leave their own territories unattended, demonstrating the immense investment and risks the birds are willing to take in pursuit of better breeding opportunities and intelligence gathering.

Read more In This Woodpecker Kingdom, War Is a Spectator Sport – The New York Times


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