This dapper fellow has formed a serious attachment to our little gray cottage. More specifically, he seems to think the downspout just outside our bedroom window holds some mystery that he must unearth at all cost.
Woodpeckers' beaks are amazing feats of engineering, designed to drill and chisel into wood where delicacies of all sort await. Our new house guest, the Red-breasted Sapsucker, dines primarily on sap. He also likes fruit and ants and other insects quite a bit.
Not one of those things can be found on, in, or near our gray metal downspout.
He arrives after daylight and before noon. He is not fazed by window pounding, yelling, or loud window opening. The first day I barefoot tiptoed into the front yard to investigate, I got within six feet of him before he decided to scram. He was back at his post before I got back to the bedroom.
My wonder and amazement at this avian intrusion is not shared by Walt. I have to admit, being awakened early on a Saturday by a noise that might have been a car driving through the wall, a noise that brought Toby to full flag and woofing alert, a noise that pulled the cats from deep mousy dreams to feral fight mode - that's enough to knock the awe out of anyone.
To make things even weirder, after several days of being probed violently for impossibilities, the downspout isn't even scratched.
Animal behavior is always purposeful. Human behavior is, too, but it's not always so simple to divine. I have seen unbalanced birds before, but Red really seems to know what he's doing.
It turns out, after a bit of research, that Red does indeed know the difference between wood and metal. He's claiming territory, and metal is louder than wood. One site I read said that sapsuckers will return to the same metal signs repeatedly to declare their manhood. It didn't say manhood exactly, but as soon as he's established territory with the metal drumming, there's a whole new kind of drumming to attract a mate.
Which means a nest nearby. And fledgling sapsuckers later in the season. And an abundance of hummingbirds who hang around to snitch the sap Red and his bride will release from our trees. All of that, plus the chance to watch him up close and personal, is worth living with a little extra noise and a little less sleep for a while. Right?
photo by Walt Shucka (taken from our front porch)