Never expected to see an Acorn Woodpecker in Oklahoma

It was a great way to start the new year — hearing that an Acorn Woodpecker had been sighted at the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge near Lawton, OK. This woodpecker species can sometimes be seen in New Mexico but is much more familiar to birders in Arizona!

The sighting in early January 2012 was only the third ever in Oklahoma — the most recent being more than 40 years ago. ┬áThis male Acorn Woodpecker was spotted by a refuge biologist at his residence within the wildlife refuge. He had just gone through the death of his dog and had placed left over dog food at his bird feeders. The Acorn Woodpecker may have been around for some time but went unnoticed in the 60,000 sq. mile refuge until there was dog food waiting at a feed! ┬áHe was certainly the most birder-friendly rare bird I’ve ever encountered.

Sightings of this beautiful bird continued from early January through March 2012. No one is certain if the bird left or is simply finding enough to eat that it doesn’t need all the dog food and acorns (donated by visiting birders).

 

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