Sunday, April 5, 2009


watch out for the peckers!!

Last weekend I was tripping around outside enjoying the yard when I saw our friendly neighbourhood woodpecker pecking away at our dead apple tree.

The tree was barely alive last summer, riddled with bug holes and giving its last breaths to growing bug-riddled apples. I remember the day the tree died last year. I went outside to find the apple-bearing branches (a cluster of three) on the ground. The tree had spontaneously gave up its last vesitges of life. This tree is definitely dead.

So I've been thinking we should get rid of this twisted relic of a tree in our yard. It's only about 4 feet high, has a few long branch/stumps that are about 6 inches in diameter. It's not terribly unattractive — if it were cast in bronze, I'd believe it was art. But it's a pain to mow around, plus to use the weed-whacker, when we could just pull it up and have one less obstacle.

Now that Mr. Woodpecker had discovered the tree, and was eating the bugs that resided within, I thought I should wait until next spring to get rid of the stump. My suet feeder was empty at the moment, and it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling that we were feeding the birds naturally.

Mr. Woodpecker seemed pretty happy about the whole thing too. He'd sit on the tree and chirp and chirp. So last weekend when I noticed he'd discovered the tree, I figured I'd go and inspect where he'd been pecking. After all, I'd never seen woodpecker pecks up close before.

I looked at the underside where he'd been pecking, and there was a cute little dent in the tree. "Just the right size for a candle" I thought, and envisioned him making several more in his search for bugs. Come mid-winter I could just go outside, chop off the branch and have a completely nature-made candle holder for a gift. You know, like driftwood that looks like antlers or potatoes that look like presidents — one of those freak-of-nature ain't-it-cool things.

So this past Friday my parents came by and I figured I'd show off our woodpecker dent to my mom. How could someone else, especially my mom, not be interested in the dents that woodpeckers make when eating bugs on my tree?

"You gotta see this... it's the cutest little dent!" I gushed as we approached the tree. "Just look right under here..." and I tilted my head to demonstrate how and where to look.

When startled, I make the most embarrasing shriek. I hope the woodpecker didn't think it was a cry of attack. It had flown out of its new home, past my head, and into the branches of another nearby tree. Instead of finding the cute dent, there was now a full-blown entrance to a woodpecker home. About 3 inches wide, and cavernous.

I learned a very important lesson on Friday. Circumstances change. What you thought was a naturally-made candle holder for you could be a birdhouse in the making. I've now bought a new cake of suet for our feeder, as a house-warming gift to our new neighbours.

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