In This Woodpecker Kingdom, War Is a Spectator Sport

Acorn woodpeckers are renowned food hoarders. Every fall they stash as many as thousands of acorns in holes drilled into dead tree stumps in preparation for winter. Guarding these “granary trees” against acorn theft is a fierce, familial affair. But all hell breaks loose when there are deaths in a family and newly vacant spots in prime habitat are up for grabs.

The news travels fast. Nearby woodpecker groups rush to the site and fight long, gory battles until one collective wins,…

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