Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I watched a war take place this morning. While reading the newspaper with a cup of coffee (that grammar makes for an interesting idea: could an electronic eye be embedded in a coffee cup & used to scan the paper to a speech program for people with sight disability?), I glanced out the sunroom windows to see a war in progress.

This bird, the acorn woodpecker, lives year round with his flock in the oaks outside:
Acorn Woodpecker, from Wikipedia
He and a flockmate or two were harrying a couple of cedar waxwings, who migrate through here in the winter on their way south to Mexico:

Photo source:

The cedar waxwings love my neighborhood because of the luscious red berries of the cottoneaster shrubs in my blog header:

US Fish and Wildlife
So the small flock of cedar waxwings was under attack by the small flock of angry acorn woodpeckers. As the waxwings tried to swallow a berry or two, a woodpecker would dive-bomb them. This made the waxwings nervous, and they either would duck and hunker down or would fly off. Having won the skirmish, the woodpecker would then retire to the big oak, where it would raucously screech its triumph with a wing display. Whilst it was doing the victory dance, the cedar waxwing or two would return to gobbling berries, hungry as hell from its long flight from the northern reaches.

I'm a fan of both birds, but I was a bit ticked off at the woodpeckers. The cedar waxwings were not stealing their food supply. Acorn woodpeckers eat insects and acorns, for Pete's sake, which they store for year-round cuisine in the oak, in lovely holes they drill and reuse just for that purpose.

On the other hand, maybe woodpeckers don't know cedar waxwings from a hole in the ground. What they DO know is the terrible starlings who periodically attempt to take over the oaks, and then a real battle ensues between the woodpeckers fighting for their home of decades, maybe centuries, and the starling squatters. The woodpeckers, fighting for homeland, always have won, so far. Their vigilance has paid off. So, dear waxwings, flutter onward, where other berries are in abundance nearby.

My lesson today, then, is to choose my battles carefully, lest I drive away a harmless body merely hungry for kindness and a rest from life's travails.


Birdie said...

could i love this post any more? no, i couldn't, it's just perfect and thank you for sharing! i had to giggle imagining you being the judge for the birds (all in a good way, Chris, i catch myself doing the same sometimes with the wildlife :-)
ps: a very happy new year to you Chris and all the best to you and yours!!!

the cuby poet said...

It can be quite captivating and so rewarding when having the patience to watch the battles in the trees.

Yvonne Osborne said...

The waxwing is a beautiful bird. I love bird watching. I can even find pleasure in the little sparrows that stay with us all winter. The disgusting starling is the only bird I don't like. It's the only one my nephew is allowed to shoot at with his bb gun, though my hubcap swears he caught him aiming once at something else. What is it with boys and guns? War and weaponry?

Brian Miller said...

ooo i like that lesson in the end...and bet it was a sight to watch as well...

Enchanted Oak said...

I liked cap guns as much as my big brother when we were little. These days I watch the little girl neighbors give their brothers what-for with squirt guns in the summer. Maybe the gender difference appears when boys graduated to loaded weapons, as in BB guns. I never got one, never wanted one, never wanted to shoot a living thing, but then, neither did my big brother. Hm.

Carrie Burtt said...

Love the lesson in your analogy Chris! I am always inspired when I stop by your blog! :-)

Helen said...

Carrie is right about a lesson learned ... I noticed 'Everybody Hurts' in your labels and hummed the music as I sat here.

Syd said...

It says a lot about how our society works today. We are fighting before we really know whether we are being attacked.

ScottF said...

I love to watch birds... Nature can teach us so much abiout ourselves. Sometimes we get so detached from our natural selves, that we (I) need to return to that side of ourselves and re-learn.

Albert Einstein Quotes