Saturday, September 02, 2006

Woodpeckers among us

Acorn woodpeckers are a dime a dozen around here. They gather on the cross bar of the power pole next to our house, and are incessantly drumming at it with their beaks, flapping around noisily, and squawking “Barraca barraca barraca!” They are aptly described in bird guides as clown-faced, which describes their personality as well. For periods of time they insisted on depositing their acorns through the gaps in the ridge of the barn roof, where it’s coming apart at the seams. It was a strange feeling to be standing in the barn and have acorns dropped on your head. Mooka liked it because she’d eat the acorns. She eats anything, but is especially fond of things that are dropped through the roof by a bird. I did feel kind of bad for the birds though. Not only were they dropping their winter’s food into a bottomless hole, it was then going into an even more bottomless hole (Mooka’s stomach). Come winter they would be very disappointed.

We still haven’t gotten to fixing that little issue with the barn roof (the honey-do list is very long after all), but lately the woodpeckers seem to have found a more favorable stash for their acorns. We’re all getting along pretty well, unless they decide to peck on our house, at which time we run outside shrieking and waving brooms, and they flutter up into the air about 20 feet, and then land on a different part of the roof. It can be frustrating.

This is an older picture of a hapless woodpecker who flew into our house and was rescued by Popsey, who can handle any bird with aplomb after 20 years of owning a cantankerous parrot named Clyde.

A few mornings ago we heard a new kind of much louder rata-tat-tatting on a tree nearby. We ran outside and found a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers (pictured, not by me) pecking on an almost-dead pine tree we’ve been waiting to see fall. They stayed here for about 1/2 hour, and then were gone. A neighbor told us she saw them a little farther up the road a few days before that. Apparently they’re not a common bird, although we’re not experts by any means. They are quite large, and look like a smaller version of the controversial might-or-might-not-be-extinct Ivory-billed Woodpecker.

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