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Acorn Woodpeckers: Rossmoor gets rid of them … one way or another

By Gary Bogue
Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009 at 9:02 am in Acorn woodpeckers.

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

Controversy over killing acorn woodpeckers in Rossmoor comes to a disappointing conclusion

As a federal permit allowing homeowner groups in the Walnut Creek, California, community of Rossmoor to shoot acorn woodpeckers expired last weekend, according to Audubon California, conservation advocates who had strongly opposed the killing might have had cause to celebrate.

However, the expiration of the permit came along with news that a separate federal agency had already trapped 20 acorn woodpeckers from the same Rossmoor area for “scientific purposes.”

Pair of acorn woodpeckers by Joe Oliver, Walnut Creek, CA

Maybe I’m getting cynical in my old age, but don’t you find it interesting that even though the Rossmoor permit to kill woodpeckers has expired … an almost magical coincidence takes place when it turns out that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (hey, aren’t those the same folks who were going to shoot the woodpeckers??) has quietly trapped 20 acorn woodpeckers at the same Rossmoor location and trucked them off for research in Colorado?

Even more magical, these very same acorn woodpeckers will be killed when the “research” project is over.

So even though the permit to kill those acorn woodpeckers had expired, with a little nimble footwork … sorry, I mean “research” … the Rossmoor woodpeckers will still be killed. What a truly magical coincidence.

You know, for a second there it crossed my mind that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had figured out a politically correct way to kill off all those acorn woodpeckers without causing another big public outcry.

But hey, what do I know.

By the way, I am truly astonished that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “researchers” trapped those 20 acorn woodpeckers at the height of their spring breeding season. You’d think they were supposed to know what they were doing. Curious. I wonder if any woodpecker babies were left unattended in their nests? /Gary

** You can read our staff writer Denis Cuff’s story, “Rossmoor woodpeckers seized for scaring experiment” at

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8 Responses to “Acorn Woodpeckers: Rossmoor gets rid of them … one way or another”

  1. Annie B Says:

    My first thought on reading this article was the analogy one might make to Japan’s whale “research” program.

    Shouldn’t the USDA be spending their time (and our money) on food safety issues? Given that we have to cut government programs I think I found one that gets my vote off the island.

  2. diana granados Says:

    Glad you had the same conclusion and you state it the best! Dr. Walters was appalled that this would occur during peak breeding season, but you know if some of the relatives of these young managed to elude the assassins (oops,researchers) they will survive and since the Acorn woodpeckers respond to loss by having the non-breeders be allowed to breed maybe it will be a repeat when Rossmoor killed 15 in 2007 and had to renew their permit to kill 50. Where is their learning curve? The USDA did their own count and found 27 Acorn woodpeckers in 110 acres and have now devastated an entire population in killing 7 and removing 20. This area backs up to open space did they harm a population that was not “legally” on their property? The more I think about this the more I realize that until we give equal value to the lives of animals we will spiral into a greater loss of our own humanity. The person responsibility was the building materials were inappropriate, a setup for failure, failure that was not the Acorn woodpeckers responsibility. thanks Gary and Denis. take care Diana

  3. Rossmoor Woodpeckers Taken from Nesting Area « Bay Area Wildlife Blog Says:

    […] Rossmoor Woodpeckers Taken from Nesting Area 2009 June 3 tags: Birds, Rossmoor Woodpeckers, Wildlife by clapperail The latest word on the sneaky, below the belt tactic taken by Rossmoor is so outrageous and unethical it can only have expedited been by a equally unethical USDA. Gary Bogue brought up a good point in his blog today: […]

  4. B.J. Says:

    Gary, This is unbelievable! Who can we write to complain about this?

  5. Mr. Muir Says:

    It appears you have a sympathetic ear at Guy there says they might be able to disperse birds with light… and not kill them

  6. Gary Bogue Says:

    B.J.: This is out of Rossmoor’s hands and into the Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s area. With a bureaucracy, it’s best to publicize the wrongs that they are doing. They react better to public knowledge than anything else I know, so a letter to the editor of your local newspaper is most effective. Thanks for caring. /Gary

  7. bruce Thom Says:

    Interesting how the Mutual response to shooting wood peckers morphed into making carpenter bee houses to solve their problem. These houses wwere built by a local builder but they are carpenter bee houses.

    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….”

  8. Get Real Says:

    They should put a reward or bounty on the Acorn Woodpeckers. We should use them for target practice any time we can. All they do is destroy homes and other structures. They are noisy and annoying.

    You bird lovers are a bunch of ____%%%%%%.

    Start protecting something that really matters.

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