Summer Sips: The Natural History of Acorn Woodpeckers

Date: Saturday, August 19, 2017

Time: 4:00PM - 6:00PM

Instructor: Thomas Kraft, PhD

Location: Blaksley Library & Courtyard

Spaces still available.  Please register at the door

Summer Sips 3

Have you ever wondered why telephone poles in California are sometimes perforated holes stuffed with acorns? Or what that striking "waka-waka" sound is that you hear while walking down the street? Variously described as "nature's clowns" or "clowns of the forest", the loud, and charismatic acorn woodpecker is a common sight throughout the Santa Barbara region. This presentation covers the natural history of this fascinating species, with an emphasis on their unique cooperation and social behavior, and the important role they play in the environment.


Image of Thomas KraftThomas Kraft received his Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Dartmouth College in 2016 with a focus on tropical rainforest hunter-gatherers. After graduation, he moved to the University of California, Santa Barbara, for a postdoctoral scholar position in the Department of Anthropology.

Tom's current interests focus on the social behaviors that characterize human foragers in the tropics. His previous research has sought to clarify the ancient role of honey in the human diet, the importance of human climbing behavior, and how social networks buffer foragers from risks of shortfall. In his past life, however, Tom worked under Dr. Walt Koenig at Hastings Natural History Reservation to study acorn woodpeckers and their interactions with oak trees. During this time, he spent hundreds of hours watching, banding, and contemplating the fascinating lives of acorn woodpeckers.


Thanks to Deep Sea by Conway Family Wines for sponsoring this month's Summer Sips.Image of Deep Sea, Conway Family Wines

Owners: Gillian Conway
Location: Deep Sea Tasting Room, 217 G. Sterns Wharf (upstairs)
Open noon - 8pm daily
(805) 618-1185

  • Deep Sea tasting room is the only winery tasting room in the world with 360 degree views of the Pacific Ocean.
  • Although they produce many varietals, Deep Sea gets its name from the grapes grown in coastal vineyards used for their Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs. They are facinated by cool climate wines, and strive to showcase the Pacific Ocean's impact on viticulture and winemaking in this area, specifically Santa Barbara County.
  • They produce two labels, Deep Sea, and Conway.


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Botany/Natural History
Creatures in the Garden
Over 21

Summer Sips Series

Register for all 4 and recieve a discount

Each event begins with wine tasting paired with delicious appetizers and conversation with the local sponsoring vintner in the Garden’s Courtyard. 

  • Presentations are held in the Blaksley Library
  • Attendance is limited, please reserve early
  • Introduce a friend to the Garden by inviting them to join you for a Summer Sips event.
  • Tickets are fully transferable

-or- register for each lecture individually, see dates & event details below:

June 17: Rock Creek Wildflowers
Cathy Rose, Naturalist & Author
Stephen Ingram, Photographer & Writer
Winery: Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard

July 15: Carnivorous Plants of Remote Locations
William Hoyer, Natural Resources Manager for San Nicolas Island
Winery: Sanford Winery & Vineyards

August 19: The Natural History of Acorn Woodpeckers
Thomas Kraft, PhD, UCSB Department of Anthropology
Winery: Conway Family Wines - Deep Sea

September 16: Botanical Treasures of the Channel Islands
Betsy Collins, Garden Director of Horticulture
Winery: Brander Vineyard