Oaks, Acorns, Insects and Birds

Last year during February, which is also feeding birds month, we shared some of Charlie’s photos of birds that are commonly found at backyard bird feeders. This year we’re going to look at plants and trees that feed birds.

We’ll start with oak trees (NPC’s logo tree is a rendition of an oak). Most people will jump immediately to acorns and think about the turkeys that like acorns. While that’s true, we can’t forget about the birds, that eat the insects, that eat the acorns.

Some birds will eat the adult insects, while others eat the larval stage of insects that use acorns as hosts. I know it may not sound all that appetizing to you, but grosbeaks love the weevils that use acorns as a “home.”

Then there’s the tree itself and the insects it holds. As trees age, they often become the home to a variety of insects that live in the wood or use the wood as a host for their young. Probably the most familiar bird that will eat these insects, in various stages is the woodpecker. The rat-a-tat-tat of a woodpecker on an oak tree is fairly common in Pennsylvania.

So, while oak trees in your yard can lead to acorn missiles while you’re mowing the grass in the Fall, they also provide a variety of birds with food during different times of the year.

acorn woodpecker