Woodpeckers Everywhere!

Wood peckers are in abundance lately. While out feeding the donkeys one morning, Greg saw a pileated woodpecker up near the pasture. When I stepped out on the back porch, I saw one fly overhead, and then heard it call to another. Greg also saw a downy, one of the smallest woodpeckers, working on the wood of the bell tower. This little guy joins the big red-headed woodpecker that came home with us from Montana a few years ago. That large one lives year-round on the side of the tower. The fellow who makes him and all of his relatives has a woodshop in the small town of Ryegate . Greg read about this man in a book about the things one finds on the back roads, and he wanted to stop by to buy a woodpecker from him. His name is Earl, and his woodpecker cutouts are fairly distinct. After purchasing our first one, we traveled on and began to notice that several other folks had done the same. Those red-headed cutouts were spotted on homes, barns and fences within several miles of this small town.

On subsequent trips out west, we’ve stopped and purchased two other woodpeckers from Earl. These, too, have migrated back to Minnesota with us, and have found new homes. When Greg saw the downy woodpecker on the bell tower, he knew that Earl’s bird wouldn’t mind sharing the territory.

Another bird of the same family that I watch for each year is the yellow-bellied sapsucker. Just saying that name out loud is fun! For several years, one of these little guys would make his way back to Heston’s Lodge, and would start to peck on an old piece of plywood that was nailed to a tree. That plywood served as the back board for a thermometer that eventually broke and fell off the tree. The board remained, and that yellow-bellied sapsucker loved to tackle it as a personal project each spring. I would first notice it by the sound it makes when pecking….It starts off with a regular cadence, but then peters out with an irregular pattern. For that reason, it is easy for my mind to recognize it, even when I am not actively listening for it. Sometime in the last year, the board finally got pulled off of the tree. I think that I heard the bird the other day, but I have yet to see it. I guess we should have left that board in place for a while longer. If for no other reason, it served the purpose of letting me spot my annual sapsucker.