Huh-uh-uh-UH-uh…huh-uh-uh-UH, uh, remember the call from the Woody cartoons way back when? Well, maybe it is my aching sciatica, lately, or the wind that threatens to blow me off the wood framed deck, but the sound of a real woodpecker is not nearly as soothing to the nerves at this moment.
“It is mating season,” my husband announces.
“He surely isn’t going to attract a mate to that ugly, dead Cottonwood. I have been in hopes our neighbors would remove the eye-sore for months.”
Tony laughs at my strange reaction to the observation.
“Look, he must be doing something right, there are two of them.
“They only make all those piercing noises when they are mating,” he continues. “Woodpeckers are known for tapping on tree trunks in order to find insects living in crevices in the bark.”
“Is that all they live on, Tony? No wonder their sound is so unpleasant.”
“No, they also eat acorns, nuts, and fruit, too. But, primarily insects.”
It isn’t easy to carry on conversation during the urgency of the mating call. Then the commencement of the tap, tap, tap, tap begins.
“They will probably find more then a ten-course meal in the dead tree,” I insist.
“They are not very big, like Woody,” I mention as I imitate the mating call. “Huh-uh-uh-UH-uh ! Huh-uh-uh-UH-uh!” Tony rolls his eyes.
“Woodpeckers have bristle-like feathers over their nostrils to help keep wood particles from being inhaled.”
“What else do you know about woodpeckers?”
“I know these two don’t have the red top-knot like your Woody, Tony continues. Woody was a Pleated, over 16” long and with raucous call similar to a peacock. There are many different types though. Probably hundreds. The smallest woodpecker in the world is the North American woodpecker or perhaps it is the Downy. They only get 6-10 inches long and I would guess one of the species is what we are watching.
“Male and female woodpeckers work together to excavate a cavity for a nest, and then incubate eggs for approximately two weeks. Babies are born blind and without feathers. Normally, I think they leave the nest within a month.”
“Well, my darling woodpecker encyclopedia — I love Woody, but these two raise more ruckus than a whole school yard of young children.
“And with that quip, I shall take my achy back, frayed nerves and wind-blown mop back indoors. Maybe I am not ready for spring after all. Enjoy the drummin’ courtship.”