Beating a tattoo of hope in a COVID-19 world

“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.

If you are already an online subscriber, CLICK HERE to access your subscription and read the full story.
If you wish to subscribe online, CLICK HERE, or you can pick up a copy of the May 13 Valley Gazette for the complete story.

Leave a comment