A vast Sunday-morning silence broken only by mourning dove wings, the soft taps of a downy woodpecker, and the grumbling of my stomach.
Say what you will about cold spring nights; they lead to gorgeous mornings. And what’s that stunning black-and-white bird? Only a downy woodpecker.
Another four inches of light powder. We are rich in snow now. The soundtrack is mostly woodpeckers: downy, pileated, red-bellied.
The thermometer’s big red arrow is at -10°C. A downy woodpecker works the wood’s edge, exploring the bases of trees, chirping loudly.
Three degrees above freezing, but it feels balmy. A downy woodpecker descends a maple trunk, chirping loudly with each downward hop.
Cold and gray. A downy woodpecker forages in the road, joined by a nuthatch, seemingly curious about this stony alternative to a tree trunk.
A spicebush swallowtail careens through the yard, where bracken fronds nod in three directions. A downy woodpecker upside-down on a limb.
Overcast and still. Two downy woodpeckers a quarter mile apart have found dead trees that, when hammered, ring at precisely the same pitch.
A fresh dusting of snow slowly vanishes—but if the sun has a tongue, the breeze has a bite. The methodical taptaptap of a downy woodpecker.
Palefaced sky with its one glowing orifice. The woodpeckers are busy with surgeries, removing delicious infestations from limb after limb.
Two downy woodpeckers tapping back and forth. The sun almost comes out. Someone is out walking on the crusty snow—the crunch of their boots.
Last night’s dusting of snow has managed to persist all morning under the trees. The silence seems impervious to the woodpecker’s taps.
Wind turns the pages of my notebook. The sun is bright, and I’m feeling happy for the small woodpecker who’s found a very loud branch.
Woodpeckers big and small are tapping on trees without disturbing the snow on every branch. Hibernating insects will never hear the knock.