an everyday photo, every day | photography • art • poetry

The Woodpecker’s Ball: 2010

woodpecker hammering on branch

The wood chips fly as this Hairy Woodpecker digs for a tasty insect under the loose bark on a branch of the Wild Black Cherry Tree in my side yard.

He had been busy at the suet cake a little earlier, making quite a racket because it’s hanging from a bracket attached to the house outside the window. He flew over to the tree and worked his way along the branch, which is debarked and pitted in various areas that must be insect hot spots. I didn’t see him stop to eat, but I hope after all that work he at least found a little old earwig under the bark.

Wild Black Cherry trees are a big favorite of woodpeckers especially because the bark on the mature branches is always a little loose, inviting insects underneath, plus the branches tend to die off allowing nesting places for termites and other tasty snacks—in which case you want it fairly far from your house. Because of their fruit, the tree is also a favorite of any fruit-eating bird, and for several years I had a nesting pair of Baltimore Orioles return to the tree.

I’m just glad I don’t have to hammer a tree branch with my beak in order to eat.

If it isn’t familiar, “The Woodchopper’s Ball” is a swing tune by Woody Herman that’s a lot of fun to listen to, and dance to if you know how to jitterbug which is part of the pun—I can imagine all those little bugs jittering around in that tree branch as the woodpecker hammers steadily away! You can find it on YouTube or other music servers.

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