‘Iipay Aa name: Hetepull
Common name: Acorn Woodpecker
Scientific name: Melanerpes formicivorus
Acorn Woodpeckers heavily rely on acorns to survive. Kumeyaay People also gathered and stored acorns and made them into shawii, an acorn mush. In addition to acorns, Hetepull will occasionally eat ants, almonds, hazelnuts, lizards, and even eggs of their own species. Common predators of woodpeckers are larger birds like sharp-shinned hawks or other animals like coyotes. Thanks to their adaptation to chaparral habitats, they can use their strong claws and stiff tail to hop up the trunk of a tree to escape their predators quickly. Like humans, Acorn Woodpeckers can have large families. They will live on one large oak tree they use to store their acorns, called a granary, where they raise their babies together.
Photo courtesy Sam May.
Acorn Woodpeckers, or Hetepull in ‘Iipay Aa, are small woodpeckers native to San Diego and the Barona Reservation. One of their nicknames is “Clown Face” because of their red cap and white face that looks similar to clown makeup. Female woodpeckers have a smaller red cap, more like a red beret, and a larger black band between the red and white on their face.