Thursday, November 4, 2010
Those Who Wait ...
His austere cries had been emanating from somewhere among the greenbrier thickets for nearly a week ... "churr-churr-churr" ... the unmistakable call of a red-bellied woodpecker ... most leaves had faded from their brilliant fall colors to a dingy brown and were yielding to chilly, autumn winds as they swirled and tumbled onto the cold ground ... a sure sign that it was time to treat this vociferous, redheaded visitor to one of my homemade suet cakes, which consisted of almonds, peanuts, cracked corn, peanut butter, black oil sunflower seeds and a few sunflower hearts ... I placed the avian delicacy in one of those vinyl-coated, wire feeders and hung it atop a wooden pole at the edge of the garden ... it wasn't long until it was being ravenously devoured ... not by any woodpecker ... a half-dozen or so loud, rambunctious bluejays had boldly swooped down and were swallowing huge pieces as they mercilessly picked it apart chunk by chunk ... in less than an hour there wasn't as much as a crumb remaining ... so I decided to wait until a woodpecker actually approached the empty feeder in search of food before daring to put out another suet cake.
A day or so later a beautiful red-bellied woodpecker alit just beneath the empty feeder and began haughtily tilting his head from side to side as he quizzically searched for any edible morsel ... as soon as the magnificent bird took flight I hurriedly placed a fresh suet cake in the wire feeder and came back inside to watch ... it wasn't but a minute or so until an audacious bluejay descended from the sky and pounced on my farinaceous offering ... however this time the bodacious jay's dinner guest wasn't a fellow bluejay ... an obviously irate and overtly conceited red-bellied woodpecker dove in like a gliding dive-bomber and came to rest right beside the blue-feathered glutton ... a staring contest at once ensued ... after about a minute of motionless eyeballing I noticed the woodpecker slowly cocking his head back ever so slightly, like a gunslinger easing back the hammer on a well-oiled six-shooter ... without warning he drilled that nearly hypnotized bluejay smack dab on the top of its tussock head with his sharp, chisel-like beak and sent it sailing headlong into a pile a dried leaves below ... the semi-conscious jay fluttered around for a bit, then eventually regained some composure and flew away.
From then on the woodpecker had the suet cakes all to himself ... he knew it, and those bluejays knew it ... as he sat atop that wooden pole tauntingly swallowing large chunks of suet while the jays hungrily watched from distant perches ... I wondered why ... there was no way any one bluejay could overpower that stout-hearted woodpecker and claim that suet for its own ... and those awestruck jays certainly weren't intellectually capable of banding together and collectively attacking that woodpecker as a group ... but yet they seemed to be patiently waiting for something ... well it wasn't long before I got my answer ... I had placed yet another suet in the feeder early that morning, and the ungenerous Picidae had already commenced to proudly feast as the jays watched from beneath the eaves of the barn roof ... suddenly I caught a glimpse of something flashing by out of the corner of my eye and heard a rushing swoosh ... the woodpecker was no longer clinging to the side of the wooden pole enjoying a leisurely breakfast, he was now in the deadly, viselike clutches of a hungry red-tailed hawk as it quickly soared over the hill and out of sight ... moments later those bluejays converged and once again began swallowing huge pieces of suet ... mercilessly picking it apart chunk by chunk ... I suppose good things really do come to those who wait!
"Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit." --Ecclesiastes 7:8.
Posted by sja at 3:50 AM