The Woodpecker

by Abby Lambert


As I sit in my backyard enjoying relaxing moments, I marvel at the number of birds inhabiting the area. Petite hummingbirds, sassy sparrows and raucous jays visit my yard each day. An extended family of crows has taken up residence in the tall fir trees in the back–they always have plenty to say.

One thing that puzzles me is the woodpecker. During the summer months, this bird will wake up extra early (typically on the weekends) to make noisy attempts at drilling holes into anything taller than a one-story house. I thought the term “woodpecker” would reflect its life mission, but the bird that lives in my neighborhood doesn’t stop at wood. Power poles, electrical transformers, chimney toppers… these are some of its favorite pecking locations. Why does it keep trying to drill holes in metal? How can this be at all productive for the bird?

After contemplation I realized the woodpecker’s behavior has strong similarities to my children during their teenage years: lots of useless noise at inappropriate times, energy spent on pointless activity, no easy way to make it stop. I also have to admit that the woodpecker probably does drill holes in trees like it’s supposed to–I’m just not aware of it. As a past parent of teenagers I’ve spent time focusing on crisis and problems versus celebrating the many small successes.

I now acknowledge that the woodpecker is going to do what it wants to do regardless of what I think. It’s not for me to say if it’s good or productive. This perspective makes it easier for me to enjoy the noisy woodpeckers in my life (both bird and human).

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