Me, Snow White, and Woody Woodpecker

I was in the garden yesterday watering the new plants when I saw a lark sparrow watching the spray, eyeing it from within a shrub. He was very interested in the arc of water and seemed to be contemplating a shower but he kept looking at me nervously. I knew if I sprayed right at him he’d be startled away. I very carefully turned off the sprayer and then angled it so the water fell on the shrub from directly above, not too forcefully, to give a rain effect. It pattered down through the leaves and he stayed in the shrub, took the dripping for rain and began to flick his wings and shake himself in it, reveling in the rainshower. Yes, it looked like something from a Disney animated film circa 1940, but I didn’t care, it gave me and the bird pleasure. . .

A few days ago I was working on the stairs I’m putting in on the hill, and heard a distinctive drumming, a tone I hadn’t heard before. A tock tock-tock tock, a bit hollow sounding. I was surprised to find it was a woodpecker–surprised because it wasn’t the usual sound. Realized it was because he was tapping at a palm tree, which being a bit spongier and corklike produces a different sound. The woodpecker then went to an oak tree, harder wood, and it made a different clack clack clack sound, quite distinct from the palm tree tone. It was a different *note*. Theoretically you could make tunes by following woodpeckers around to different trees, each type of tree producing a different note from the impact of the bird’s beak; record the variants, cut and mix, make a coherent melody. I leave it to you.

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