Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Woodpecker Neighbors

I have an old bird house hanging from a hickory, along my side street (I live on a corner). The top is warped to a permanently open position and the wood is badly weathered. I should take it down and replace it. With luck and new house, then, maybe somebody would take up residence.

Today, I heard a downy woodpecker busily banging away over on that side of the property. From the kitchen door, I saw him working the hole and the overhang of that old birdhouse. I went out later and examined the birdhouse but couldn't tell he'd accomplished much. There couldn't have been much in the dried lumber for him to eat.

Once upon a time, a Maple that stood about 40 feet from the back porch that came down in a wind storm. It wasn't all that old of a tree but apparently Maples aren't the strongest tree in the forest. It was tall enough that the top limbs brushed up against the back door. We cut the trunk down to ground level but in a year it rotted into a hole. One day, I was standing by the back door and could see a little movement just over the edge of the hole. This chunk of wood came flying out and another and then, this crazy, red-headed, wide-eyed, scared looking woodpecker, with a big crest, poked it's head up, looked around to be sure there weren't any cats close, and got back to digging up the trunk and roots. It was the first Pileated woodpecker I'd ever seen.

I thought perhaps the downy was, in the modern vocabulary, "making noises."  Woodpeckers, I understand, drum for mates. It's a regular percussion section sometimes. I have all the major woodpeckers in the yard at various times and have on many occasions rushed out of the house to see if I can spy a Pileated hammering on an old log in the back. I have also charged out in rage at a sapsucker banging away at the gutter or downspout.

Several years ago I was crossing campus and surprised to hear a sapsucker beating on the metal cover of the parking lot light. It sounded like someone was beating on garbage can lid. While it might not hurt them to do all this noise making, in my mind's eye I sort of saw him pausing, coming up for breath. Wishing for some sign of success!

Sort of natural version of ghetto blasting.



Post a Comment

Comments welcome. Use the "anonymous" profile. Thanks.

<< Home