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Acorn Woodpeckers Turn Vacation Rental into Nutty Storage Unit

2023

In a case of real estate gone wild, the owners of a vacation rental in Glen Ellen were in for a nutty surprise when they discovered that acorn woodpeckers had transformed their property into a giant storage unit. Exterminator Nick Castro stumbled upon this astonishing sight while inspecting the home for mealworms in December, revealing a whopping 700 pounds of acorns tucked away within the home's chimney.

Castro, the owner of Nick's Extreme Pest Control in Santa Rosa, was left dumbfounded by the sheer scale of this unconventional hoarding endeavor. "I've never seen anything like that," he remarked. "The more acorns I pulled out from the wall, the more there were. It felt like it wasn't going to end."

The culprits behind this spectacle were a pair of acorn woodpeckers, renowned for their clownish faces and striking red caps. These big-eyed birds are notorious for squirreling away vast amounts of acorns, but their choice of storage location left the homeowners flabbergasted. The woodpeckers had pecked holes in the chimney stack and ingeniously concealed their treasure trove inside.

The previous owners of the house had taken measures to protect their abode after the woodpeckers wreaked havoc on its wood siding. They wrapped the structure in vinyl, hoping to deter further mischief. However, it appears that the determined birds were undeterred by this defensive barrier. Instead, they ingeniously dropped their precious oak nuts down the chimney stack, bypassing the vinyl blockade.

Castro and his crew embarked on a mission to liberate the rental property from this unconventional storage solution. With sheer determination and a dash of laughter, they managed to extract over 700 pounds of acorns from the chimney. "We could barely pick up the bags," Castro chuckled.

According to Castro's estimations, the woodpeckers had been amassing their stash for a period ranging from two to five years. Unfortunately, the accumulated stockpile had been rendered unusable due to the presence of fiberglass and rat droppings, so it was swiftly discarded.

Acorn woodpeckers are commonly found in oak and mixed oak-evergreen forests along the West Coast and in the Southwest. These resourceful birds usually drill small holes in dead trees during the fall, collecting acorns and storing them in the holes to sustain themselves throughout the winter. Some trees become multi-generational storage units, boasting up to 50,000 holes.

However, as Castro's peculiar discovery demonstrates, these birds sometimes exhibit unusual storage habits. Scott Jennings, an avian ecologist with Marin County nonprofit Audubon Canyon Ranch, suggests that this behavior could be attributed to the woodpeckers adapting to an ever-changing landscape. When their natural habitats are encroached upon by human infrastructure, these resilient birds find innovative ways to accommodate themselves.

"It's an anecdote I've heard a lot," Jennings commented.

In the end, the homeowners can rest assured that their vacation rental is now free from acorn-infested walls. The acorn woodpeckers have left behind an indelible mark, serving as a reminder that even the most seemingly ordinary creatures can surprise us with their resourcefulness and penchant for unconventional real estate ventures.

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