“The woodpeckers are so nasty.”
It was the first thing the cottager said after we introduced ourselves (from the required safe distance) when I was passing by her place on a walk with my dog.
Her pronouncement took me aback. I’ve never heard ill spoken of a woodpecker before. On my hikes in the woods – which are even longer than usual these COVID days – I take great pleasure in the courtship, or territorial, tattoos the woodpeckers are beating out on the trees. There seems to be more drumming than usual – as there seem to be more barred owls hooting, more bald eagles flying around, more wood ducks in the river (wood ducks at all!). Though maybe I’m just paying more attention?
I expected the woman to explain she’d seen a couple of woodpeckers fighting over territory but she said, “They’re drilling holes in the trees.”
But that’s what woodpeckers do, I wanted to say. Instead I said, mildly, “It just means there are a lot of bugs in your trees.”
I appreciated her concern for the trees, but there was no chance to discuss whether the holes actually do harm (judging from our healthy tree and woodpecker populations, I would say not), because she went on to tell me about the chipmunks that were digging up her bulbs. “We’ll deal with them later,” she added.
I wasn’t sure I wanted to know what “deal with” would entail. I sent a silent message to her chippies to run for their lives, and consoled myself that the avian invaders were likely safe.
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