By Bob Jamison

          There’s a lot to be said about Woodpeckers. Some are awful cute and some have a streak of mischief, I believe.

          Take for instance the beautiful cedar climbing rose treacle out in the garden. The roses are pretty and the sweet smell of cedar compliments the famous aroma. However, one morning some significant notice was given to splinters and wood chunks lying around on the ground below the treacle.

          Was it an explosion? No, the cedar wood was torn to pieces. Great holes and trenches were plowed through the tender wood. A bird expert was consulted and this is what they discovered.

          In these parts there is a pesky black bumble bee known as a Carpenter Bee. This insect bores holes in wood to build a bee incubator for the larvae that will some become another Carpenter Bee; then another and another, etc. His trick is to drill into your house or rose treacle about an inch. Then he turns the corner for a distance. In the back of the hole he/she lays an egg which will become pupae or larvae that soon becomes a bee. Each egg is sealed to confound anyone that tries to shoot liquid poison in the hole.

          Since this didn’t work, Liberty Pest Control was called in. They explained that liquid will not penetrate the compartments that contain the eggs. But powder insecticide will stay. When the critter chews his way to the new world, he steps on the powder and goes to wooded paradise.

          But there is the other cure. The Woodpecker knocks his way into the chamber and eats the larvae or the baby bee. On the other hand, a new treacle is next on the agenda.

          There is another interesting thing about the local Red Headed Woodpeckers in this area that might astound you. While sitting and watching in the cool of the evening, a pair of Red Headed Woodpeckers stand guard on the late afternoon rattle of the deer feeder out in the yard. Soon as it quits spraying a fresh batch of corn for the deer to eat the pair of woodpeckers dives out of the pine trees and each pick up a kernel of corn and return to the pine tree. With strong binoculars, this bird can be seen poking a hole behind the pine bark, placing the kernel of corn and returning to the deer feeder. Is this to be available for a later snack?

          Also, Mr. Red Headed Woodpecker will take a kernel of corn up on a limb and it appears he is pecking a hole in the shell and eats the tender part of the corn. No doubt, that bird is an insect eater but what is he doing eating the corn that belongs to the deer and doves? The book says they will also eat acorns and even store them in holes!

          Reports say the Red Headed Woodpeckers are now endangered (what ever that definition is) and are not to be molested according to law. So an avian autopsy is out of the question.

          Of course, there are several kinds of woodpeckers in our area. The classic one is the Pileated Woodpecker that is about the size of a crow. When he hits a dead pine tree with his bill everyone knows it. But this is not all bad. Wood Ducks often used these great holes to build nest. Also, the woodpecker is doing away with some kind of a bug, I assume.

          All in all, the woodpecker family has been with us a long time and will likely remain the fascination of those that watch their habits. However, some wonder if their beak ever gets dull, how does he sharpen it? Too, there are those like the late W. A. Bill Conner of Dayton, that might refer to some nare-do-well person to be “Worthless as a woodpecker with a headache.” I trust they never have one.