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.