I’m sitting here watching a woodpecker hard at work on a pine tree in the front yard. I can actually see him now because I cleaned the windows this morning. Before the Windex job, my windows were sort of like looking through a Jackson Pollack painting without my contacts in or watching HDTV channel 191…all static all the time. I have to admit, though, that high definition static is more impressive than regular static. Unless it’s the kind of static that causes balloons to stick to your hair without using mousse or rubber cement. Now THAT’S impressive…and amusing for hours on end.
After taking two whole hours off my life with newspaper and a Windex bottle, I now understand why housekeeping services draw the line at cleaning windows. It’s hard work. However, someone please tell me what they have against dusting ceiling fan blades, a chore that takes all of 90 seconds, and a stepladder unless you have Wilt Chamberlain cleaning your house, which would be highly improbable since he died about eight years ago and before death was way too busy creating a generation of towering offspring numerous enough to populate Uzbekistan. That fact according to my husband, a repository of information on sports legend obituaries and offspring and countries that need more people.
I’ve never thought much about woodpeckers before. They’ve always just sort of been there, like dirt and trees and eye boogers and Dick Clark. But if you take the time to ponder, the woodpecker is quite a fascinating specimen of the bird kingdom…and quite possibly the dumbest and hard headedest too. They spend their entire days peck peck pecking at trees, except for two 15 minute breaks and an hour for lunch, as mandated by avian labor unions. Why exactly do they do this? What’s the point? Is there a treat at the core of the tree trunk? A nice juicy worm waiting to be digested, sort of like the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop? If that’s the case, they could save a lot of time and beak wear and tear by just pulling worms up out of the ground like the rest of the bird population that was endowed with considerably more common sense than the woodpecker, who must be more bird brained than our average feathered friends.
When thinking about woodpeckers, a flood of questions come up; do they suffer more brain injuries than the average bird? After a long workday, do they sit in their nests in LaZ Bird recliners with ice packs on their beaks? Are their health insurance rates higher than those of birds with less strenuous jobs? If so, hopefully Obamacare will straighten that out when our fearless leader begins to tax things like sunshine and proper kidney function so everyone will have cheap healthcare and free Spongebob tattoo bandaids.
I wonder if woodpeckers have wood preferences. Do some opt for oak, while others are strictly elm birds? Do they have conversations that go something like this?
“Hey Charlie, I see you’re still pecking away at that old fir tree. Why don’t ya try some maple? You’ll never waste time on that soft wood again.
“Thanks Fred, but the doctor’s got me on a straight pine diet. After the hickory incident of ‘06, I was out on disability for three months. Plus, I read in last month’s issue of Bird’s Health that there’s a link between maple wood and beak rot. At my age, I’m not takin’ any chances.
Do woodpeckers communicate messages through their constant pecking like an avian form of Morse code? I picture two teenage girl birds admiring a strapping young lad hard at work jackhammering an oak tree, his neck muscles rippling in the sunshine. Peck…..Peck Peck Peck…….Peck….Peck Peck. “OMG, Kaitlyn, he says ‘meet me tonight at the bird bath.”
“Geez, look at the sun. It’s almost 5:30 and I still have to shower and curl my feathers.”
With Andrew and Jack both in school now, I have four whole hours to myself in the mornings, which translates to about seven minutes of productivity because I spend too much time reading ads on Craigslist (the clean ones) and observing bird behavior. Last Wednesday when I returned home after dropping Jack off at preschool, I noticed an owl just hooting away from my neighbor’s willow tree. (Now, I know you’re starting to think that I’m one of those weird bird watching types with binoculars and a little birding notebook in my fanny pack. Let’s clear that up right now. I HATE fanny packs and would never consider owning one, unless it was a gift from my sister, which I would re-gift to my stepdaughter, who would immediately burn it.)
I found the owl incident strange because it was 9:15 in the morning, well past the bedtime of a normal nocturnal predator. “Does he have insomnia?” I wondered. “Do birds get insomnia? Did his wife eventually come out of their tree trunk house and say ‘Harold, do you see what time it is? Come to bed this INSTANT!’ Maybe Harold was pulling an extra shift for his hawk friend who took a vacation day. Maybe Harold was simply squawking at a woodpecker to shut the Hell up so he could get some shuteye before sundown. Maybe Harold was too upset to sleep after reading another spotted owl obituary. (this suggestion from my husband, who is also a repository on spotted owl obituaries. I really love using the word repository. It sounds like suppository, but is rarely shoved with force up one’s anal repository. If ya know what I mean.)
I’ll write more later. For now, I’m too enthralled in watching my new woodpecker friend. And then onto Craigslist. Then it’ll be time to pick up Jack from preschool. Whew, what a day. I’m gonna need a nap soon.