Current scientific studies state that approximately 48% of existing global bird populations are declining. According to Audubon, more than half of the US bird population is shrinking due to habitat loss, climate change, predation by domestic cats, and invasive species. They also suggest that there have been 3 billion North American birds lost since 1970.
Yesterday, while snowshoeing, a friend remarked. “It’s so quiet. I guess the birds are all gone.”
It was quiet. More so than I remember. Granted, most birds fly south for the winter season. Yet, some birds stick around: crows, ravens, chickadees, and red-tailed hawks, to name a few. However, I haven’t seen as many birds this year, except for the pileated woodpeckers who visit the forests around my home.
They are noteworthy birds. About the size of a crow, mostly black with bold white stripes and a red crest. They favor mature forests chipping out big rectangular holes in the trees, searching for carpenter ants and beetle larvae. Pileated woodpecker pairs stay together all year round, are not migratory, and even prefer harsh winter conditions. They can also forage around human homes.
I know they do because we have a pair that patronize our home. It’s not uncommon for me to be typing away on my laptop, absorbed in my writing when I hear a sudden tap, tap, tap. Stop. Then the sound again. Tap, tap, tap. You think I would know by now that it’s the woodpecker but invariably I find myself muttering, “What’s that?”
I think they must hear me leave my desk because, by the time I’ve opened the front door, they have flown to a nearby tree making loud, high-pitched, clear piping calls reminding me of the Woody Woodpecker cartoons of my youth. I usually lift my arms and say, “Shoo,” because I don’t want them chiseling a hole in our wood siding.
A bit of research informs me that pileated woodpeckers are loud and proud, using their drumming to communicate a variety of messages: connect with their mate, define territory, preen, or even get excited about something, and have become more and more adaptable to our changing world.
I think I could learn a few things from this remarkable bird: be loud and proud when I need to be, stay connected with my mate, get excited about things, become more adaptable to a changing world, and smile when I next hear tap, tap, tap.
“Heh-Heh-Heh-HEHHH-heh. HA-HA-HA-HAAA-HA! Guess who?” Woody Woodpecker
How did you find solace this week?
© 2023. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved