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Acorn woodpeckers: Help stop Rossmoor homeowners from killing them!

By Gary Bogue
Friday, January 30th, 2009 at 7:40 am in Acorn woodpeckers, Rossmoor Retirement Community, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Acorn woodpecker S.O.S. art by Kat Mulkey, Lafayette

Two Rossmoor homeowner groups — Mutual 68 and Mutual 59 — have decided to shoot 50 acorn woodpeckers to try and stop the birds from drilling holes in their condos to store acorns for use as winter food.

Shooting will NOT stop the problem and your help is needed to save these birds from being killed by humans who obviously don’t understand the situation.

Audubon California, our own local Mt. Diablo Audubon Society and top acorn woodpecker experts met on Jan. 7 with Rossmoor representatives and a U. S. Fish and Wildlife special agent and presented clear scientific reasons why the shooting would not solve the Rossmoor problems. They also offered substantial resources to help the homeowners deal with the woodpecker problems with non-lethal methods.

They made these offers ONLY if the Rossmoor mutuals would vote NOT to kill the birds.

The homeowner association boards ignored this advice. Mutual 68 voted to immediately start shooting the acorn woodpeckers and Mutual 59 voted to wait two months and then start shooting. So Audubon California and MDAS are asking the USFWS to revoke Rossmoor’s depredation permit immediately before birds can be killed.

The only way we can save the lives of 50 acorn woodpeckers (and many more in the future??) is to convince the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to cancel Rossmoor’s kill permit.

The USFWS should NOT have issued the permit in the first place. Experts say killing the birds won’t work. If they shoot 50 woodpeckers, 50 new woodpeckers will probably take their place within the hour. The permit also states that all non-lethal remedies must first be tried before permission will be made to kill birds, and the mutuals have clearly not made a good-faith effort to do that.

You can help by contacting members of the USFWS permit department (see below) and asking them to immediately revoke the permit before the Rossmoor mutuals can kill and disrupt the acorn woodpecker population. This is critical because acorn woodpeckers are a “cornerstone species.” The holes these birds drill in trees provide housing, habitat and food for a LARGE number of species of wildlife in the rich oak woodland areas around Rossmoor and beyond.

Killing the woodpeckers impacts a lot more wild creatures than just the woodpeckers and that is NOT good.

Please take a quick moment to sign this petition by Audubon California:

Please e-mail these USFWS people and ask them to cancel the permit:

Contact Congresswoman Tauscher and ask her to please ask the USFWS to cancel Rossmoor’s permit to kill the woodpeckers:
Go to and click on “Contact Me” in upper right side of the page, then click on “e-mail me” and fill out the e-mail response form and add your message in the spaces provided.

More details on acorn woodpeckers and why top acorn woodpecker experts say shooting them won’t work:
See MDAS newsletter “The Quail,” scroll down to page 4, “Rossmoor Acorn Woodpecker Update”:

My thanks for taking the time to do this and especially for caring.

The USFWS needs to understand that simply killing wildlife whenever there’s a conflict is not always the best solution. They need to be more careful about issuing their depredation permits. If killing won’t solve this acorn woodpecker problem, it probably won’t solve a lot of other wildlife/human conflict problems, either.

Hopefully, getting a LARGE response from people about this particular subject will also cause them to reevaluate their practices in other areas. Thanks for caring. /Gary

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9 Responses to “Acorn woodpeckers: Help stop Rossmoor homeowners from killing them!”

  1. Barbara Says:

    It is cruel & unjustifiable to kill the woodpeckers. They were there before you & will be there long after you. Shooting them only means death and does not look like it will solve the problem but potentially increase the number of woodpeckers in the area…those seeking to replace any alpa male. Work with Audubon and solve this issue humanely.

  2. Bob Korsan Says:

    I happen to live in Rossmoor (not in the effected Mutuals) and agree with you. However, you are not being fair. The Mutuals have spent over $100,000 over the last three years trying to get rid of the birds. Everything failed. You need to be more balanced.

    Do you have a list of things that were tried and what the Audobon Society asked to try that was different? How much money spent is evidence of good faith?

  3. Sandybutt Says:

    So what the heck are “the non-lethal methods”? It’s funny that you ask for everyone to write congressmen without providing clear alternatives and how effective they are! This is one of those cases where nutcases think that woodpeckers and their own cats and dogs are more important than people who are just trying to live without woodpeckers drilling holes in their houses relentlessly! Being a homeowner I sympathize with the roosmoor owners!

    Sorry you need to provide more information to convince me!

  4. Heidi Carlson Says:

    Thanks for writing this here and in the CCTimes!

    I’ve linked to your blog here in a blog post I just did, hoping my few readers will sign the petitions and write emails to the bungling officials.

  5. M Says:

    Killing these birds is unjustifiable, presumptuous, and full of hubris–what right do they have to kill an entire woods full of families? These birds are struggling all over the country. They want to live in nature, then kill it? Wholesale? Get used to the noise. Sublimate it. Patch the holes. Work with Audubon, Humane, Fish and Wildlife. What is WRONG with these people? I signed the petition to revoke the kill. Shame on Fish and Wildlife. Shame on them.

  6. Heidi Perryman Says:

    You are doing a great service to report on this issue. Your comment-ers that want more “solutions” before they’ll put down the shotgun should read this months issue of the Mt Diablo Audubon Society Newsletter. Remember that 15 birds were killed last year, and this year the request is to kill 50. That is hard evidence that killing increases the breeding population.

    After looking over the science of woodpecker breeding, stop and revisit Nancy Wenniger’s article on why this was doomed to happen when developers ignored EIRs and lawsuits by the Sierra Club and residents were unsuccessful in convincing a city council with dollar signs instead of eyeballs.

  7. Dick Locke Says:

    You can also reach the mutual 68 board members by phone.

    Their phone numbers are here:

    If you do call, remember only three out of the five listed voted to proceed with the killing. Don’t assume you’re talking to one of those three.

  8. bruce thom Says:

    Interesting how the Mutual response to shooting wood peckers morphed into making carpenter bee houses to solve their problem.
    How about making the builders responsible for using foam siding instead of wood?

    The carpenter bees are wonderful pollinators working on cold days to pollinate my fruit trees when it is too cold for the other bees. One cool spring, they were the bees working my apple trees. I had a great crop that year.
    Their houses are a 1/2 inch hole drilled an inch or two into old untreated wood. The hole then turns at a 90 degree angle. That sounds difficult to build. I wonder if just drilling the straight inch or two hole would encourage them to finish the 90 degree turn. That last part is their brood chamber.

    Wood Peckers on the other hand…

    These birds fly to catch insects in the air or on the ground, forage on trees or gather and store nuts. They are omnivorous, eating insects, seeds, fruits, berries, nuts, and occasionally even the eggs of other birds.[3] About two thirds of their diet is made up of plants.[3] They nest in a cavity in a dead tree, utility pole, or a dead part of a tree that is between 8 and 80 feet (2.5 to 25 m) above the ground.

    Again we in Rossmoor are the laughing stock of the area..

    A little research would keep egg off the faces of the mutual who foisted this solution on their constituents…

    Bruce Thom
    Ptarmigan Dr
    Walnut Creek CA 94595
    “a mind is like a parachute.
    it only works when open….”

  9. Cherie Abramowitz Says:

    Can I ask the obvious question? why can’t animal control
    trap and move them? They would probably like to store their acorns in the forest anyway if someone brought this to their little bird brains. We are human beings thus one would assume smarter, capable of a solution.
    you are expected to resolve your issues with your neighbors as opposed to shooting them, perhaps being the bigger person you could try that with animals.
    Please correct me if you feel I am wrong and the bird is in fact smarter than you.

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