Thursday, August 12, 2010

Red-Headed Visitor

Whenever my neighbors see a plant or a bird or an animal that's unfamiliar to them, they ask us about it. More often than not, we don't know, either, but both Deus Ex Machina and I are good researchers, and the Internet is an amazing tool.

A month or two ago, Mr. Mooset told us he'd seen a giant red-headed bird, and he asked my girls what it was. They didn't know, and so they ran into the house to ask me. Not having seen the bird, I could only guess as to what it was, and so I printed off pictures of a couple of possibilities and the girls took them over to ask him which it was.

This morning, as Deus Ex Machina was leaving for work, I looked up into the trees across the road and saw this:

There were three of them hopping around in the treetops, sounding what the girls have dubbed the monkey call. It was pretty amazing, and I, now, understand the whole Woody Woodpecker laugh, because it's very similar to the sound the Pileated woodpecker makes. Guess those cartoonists actually knew a thing or two about real birds.

Seeing them was pretty cool, and after doing a bit of early morning Internet sleuthing, I am both relieved and concerned.

I'm concerned, because their diet consists mostly of carpenter ants. I was pretty sure we had carpenter ants in the area, and seeing woodpeckers confirmed my suspicions, which is what's concerning. Carpenter ants are incredibly destructive, and not something I want in my house.

Which is where the relief comes in. In our natural habitat, we don't use - icides of any kind. We allow nature to take care of that for us, and so far, we've been rewarded in our rather hands-off approach.

First the carpenter ants came, and the woodpeckers followed. In a normal habitat, they keep each other in check, and neither population will exceed the resources in their area.

As we move toward a lower energy world, we will very much need to start looking to nature for lessons on how to live. We can learn a lot, if we just listen and pay attention.

For the moment, though, Woody Woodpecker's pealing laughter from the treetops serves as a reminder that we haven't been learning the lessons. Perhaps, if we get smarter, he'll be laughing with us, instead of at us.


  1. Woodpeckers are groovy little birds, aren't they?

    Good luck with moderation off… I found that turning on moderation for posts over a week old has been sufficient.

  2. They are groovy birds - very cool!

    As for the moderation ... I turned it back on, because this morning, after I'd posted the moderation off post (which you'll notice is gone), there was a spam comment. Arghh! Oh, well - Das ist die lieben ;).

  3. Oh how wonderful to see one of those birds! I never have, I have often seen the enormous, impressive holes they make in the trees tho!

  4. Yes, Wendy I agree, Very cool. I have heard them and seen signs of them but have never been able to catch a glimpse in person.

  5. I've seen woodpeckers now and then (along with the holes they "drill" in trees) but never knew that the largest part of their diet was carpenter ants. I guess that's part of Nature's brilliant intentions.

  6. I just wanted to tell you I tried the soup and the bread. The soup is very similar to the cucumber dip. I think the only difference was the chicken broth. It was great... but I have to say the winner here is the Flat bread! IT WAS FREAKIN' AWESOME!!! Im going to make it again this weekend for my husband. Thanks for the link. ;)

  7. Patrice - I haven't seen the holes - too far up the tree - but they were incredible! I'd never seen such a large woodpecker!

    Farmgal - I knew woodpeckers ate bugs, but after I did some reading about them, it made sense for them to be hanging out, as we've been seeing carpenter ants at the beginning of the season each year (which is when they're usually seen indoors, and then, they usually go back out ... which, luckily, has been the case for us). According to what I read, the woodpeckers also eat fruit and berries. Wouldn't it be cool if they ate whatever bug has been killing our peach trees ;)?

    Leigh! So glad you enjoyed the bread. It is pretty awesome, and my girls (one of whom won't eat anything) loves it, so it's definitely a keeper in our house ... and when the weather's hot, there's really nothing better than grilled bread ;). I'm planning to make some this weekend with shish kabob :).

  8. They are such cool birds! After looking for them during several vacations (they don't live in AZ), we finally saw them in Oregon years ago. Then saw one fly across the road on our trip to Missouri a year or so ago.

    Great yard bird, Wendy!