It’s a question I’ve been asking myself lately: what is the difference between storing useful stuff and acumulating clutter?
Perhaps there’s something to be learned from the behavior of Acorn Woodpeckers.
Last Saturday, on a hike at East Canyon, I noticed an Acorn Woodpecker flying overhead. As I looked about, I noticed a “granary tree”, a dead tree trunk drilled with hundreds of acorn-sized holes. Some of the holes already had acorns in them, but there were plenty of empty spaces. I suspect the woodpecker was heading back to gather more acorns from the oaks on the other side of the canyon.
There are 22 species of woodpeckers in North America. Acorn Woodpeckers are unique among woodpecker species because of their cooperative social behavior. They live together in family groups of up to 15 birds.
During the spring and summer, Acorn woodpeckers feed mainly on insects. But in the fall, they work together in family groups to gather and store enough acorns to last throughout the winter. Sometimes they use a tree, sometimes a telephone pole…
(Photo courtesy Ron Kraus)
…they choose whatever is handy, like this broken bulletin board at Walker Ranch.
Both Acorn woodpeckers and humans store stuff. According to the Self Storage Association, “One in 10 US households currently rent a self storage unit”. There “is 7.3 sq.ft. of self storage space for every man, woman and child in the nation”.
But when does storing useful stuff become accumulating clutter? Here are three lessons I learned from Acorn Woodpeckers:
1) Woodpeckers store acorns for a season; humans store stuff for an indeterminate period of time, perhaps even a lifetime.
2) Woodpecker storage is focused. They collect acorns. Human storage is often unfocused. We collect socks, jewelry, postcards, you-name-it.
But perhaps the most important lesson I learned is this:
3) Woodpeckers store acorns to feed better; humans store stuff to feel better.
Upcoming Outdoor Events:
Trail Maintenance Schedule. Come join our volunteers as they help maintain our trails. Contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org for time and place.
Wednesday mornings, December 5, 12, & 19.
Saturday mornings, December 1 & 15.
Saturday, December 15, 9:30-11:30 AM. “Wild Birds of Autumn” at Towsley Canyon. The birds are busy preparing for winter. Beginning birders are welcome. Binoculars optional. Meet outside at the front gate. Click here for a map and directions.
Saturday, December 15, 9:30-11:30 PM. “Cool Adaptations at Pico Canyon”. Nature’s creatures are busy preparing for the coming winter. Bundle up and join us to observe how wildlife and plant life adapt to survive the short days and cold months. Meet in the parking lot adjacent to Mentryille. Click here for a map and directions.
New trail maps available. If you’d like to explore a bit on your own, the City of Santa Clarita has a website with trail maps of our local open spaces: http://hikesantaclarita.com/.
There’s also a new website for bicycle riders. http://bikesantaclarita.com
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