Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Birds love pecans too!

    Pecans are loved not only by millions of folks around the world but it seems that every critter in the great outdoors loves to feast on pecans too. One of the things we watch for when cleaning pecans are bird pecks (photo at right).  Although crows are the best known avian pecan thieves, they tend to break open the entire nut with their massive bill, devour the entire kernel, and leave nothing behind but shell fragments..  On the other hand, woodpeckers and flickers seem to be nut samplers--pecking a hole through the shell, taking a few bites, dropping the nut to the ground, then searching for another nut to sample.  These are the nuts we pick up with pecan harvest.
    The cultivar Peruque, by far, is the pecan most susceptible to bird peck. The woodpeckers and flickers like Peruque because of its small (easy to carry) size and extremely thin shell. The top two nuts in the photo are Peruque. To a lesser degree, we find a lot of bird peck on large, thin-shelled cultivars like Shoshoni (nut at the bottom of photo), Maramec, and Mohawk.
    Woodpeckers and flickers are federally protected "song birds" and can not be hunted, trapped or poisoned. The only way to minimize damage from bird peck is to harvest your crop a fast as you can.