Posted by: David | January 22, 2012

Peckerwood And The Dead Poplar

Sorry about the funky title for this post. Feeling frivolous I guess. Saturday morning my wife, holding our granddaughter and looking out into our dooryard, beckoned me to come and see. There was some woodpecker action going on that was worth seeing. Sure enough, a large pileated woodpecker was working on the remains of a poplar tree. The upper part of this tree fell a few years back and took out the telephone AND power lines. I’d started worrying about this as soon as I noticed that the tree had died. But it was a pretty big tree, very close to the house and the power lines. It would take some courageous planning to deal with this, not just gassing up the chain saw and letting her rip. Been there, done that, had to call the power company for help afterward. Embarrassing.

Winding up for a big peck ‘o wood.

This bird and maybe some of its extended family have been working this [very tall] stump for some months now. This is the first time we’ve had the pleasure of watching. The chips really do fly. Constructed a little video with some stills and some music by Erik Satie. Gnossienne Nr. 1. For some reason videos of birds seem best set to the solo piano compositions of this turn of the century (19th to 20th) French musical genius.

This bird hung out for a good 5 minutes. Nice of it to give me time to find the camera.

Another month or two of this and the stump will be much shorter.

For the parting shot I’ve got a photo from work. Our nursing students do some of their work on dummies in a lab space filled with hospital beds. They were getting the lab space ready for the spring semester classes and had to pull all the dummies off the beds temporarily. So they had to hang out for a bit in the study lounge.

This photo belongs in this post, right?



  1. Aren’t woodpeckers amazing? By rights they should all be brain dead from self-induced concussions! I hear them far more often than I ever see them. What a treat to have them working so close to your house.

  2. they are such pretty birds. they are such freaky fake people.

    We are very fortunate to have so many beautiful birds around here. But then, we supply them with about 300 pounds of sunflowers seeds every year. The nursing dummies have long histories of freaking people out when seen unexpectedly.

  3. The wasband is an avid bird photographer and while we were married I went on many walks and hikes looking for birds. I have always wanted to see a pileated woodpecker. I am very jealous. I loved the video and the music was beautiful. I watched it twice.

    According to a few different and hastily Googled range maps, there ought to be some of these woodpeckers on the Cape. Maybe it’s too thickly settled there. Anyway, sorry you’re jealous, but thanks for liking the hastily assembled video. It was snowing lightly when the bird visited.

  4. Love woodpeckers. Mostly we see downy woodpeckers, sometimes some bigger ones.

    I’ve got a dead tree I need to take down, except that I think my best lumberjack efforts might put it onto the highway.

    Hi Mike, thanks for your comment. We have lots of pileated woodpeckers around here. I hear them and see them throughout the year. This is the first time one has come to work so near the house. We have downy and hairy woodpeckers at the bird feeders a lot too, mostly flinging the seeds down for the ground feeders. I think they don’t really “get” bird feeders.

    I have two or three really bad tree fellings on my record, but percentage-wise I’m doing OK and I’m much better at it than I used to be. Fortunately I don’t have to do it very often. We buy our firewood already cut and split.

  5. Uh oh…. that last image looks like you’ve been sneaking into the gimcrack

    Funny! I don’t have to sneak, I’m a subscriber. 🙂

  6. Woody should have that tree down by Spring.

    Nice photo! Must’ve snapped it after those folks finished reading MY blog!

    (Looks a bit Monty Python-ish, innit?)

    Yes, they do look a bit stunned, don’t they?

    Or, maybe they’re pinin’ for the fjords.

    • They could be members of the Dead Poet Society.

      Hee hee! The nursing professor said they were enjoying a ‘smoke break’. They’re sayin’ “where’d they put the fookin ashtrays mate?”

      • I do love the music and the way the woodpecker keeps checking his progress. He’s likely gauging where the tree will fall, trying very hard to make sure it does maximum damage. Woodpeckers are vengeful blighters!

        Thanks, I’ll tell Erik Satie next time we have a seance. We haven’t seen the woodpecker for a bit and the tree stump (it’s weird to call it a stump since it’s about 25 feet high) is still standing. Despite woody’s best effort, no damage is likely to result here. I hope that the bird is finding some reward for the effort.

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