Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring has (sort of) sprung

Three cheers for the first day of Spring!
Pity it was still in the twenties this morning.
On the other hand, if you live in Western New York, you know not to get your hopes up.

By far the most pleasant surprise of the day was hearing a strange dripping sound outside, which grew into a loud tapping noise. The source? A woodpecker--not the sort of bird we see (or hear) every day in these parts. Good thing I'd just brought home a review copy of Robert Budliger and Gregory Kennedy's 2005 guide to Birds of New York State that had been sitting around my office for years.

Handy reference guide, although I confess I couldn't figure out which of 9 different woodpeckers I saw. I was mainly consulting the guide to find out why exactly the birds peck in the first place, and it turns out each variety has its own reason: building a nest, finding food, even flirting with the ladies. I also learned that Picoides villosus--the hairy woodpecker--has a tongue four times the length of its bill, which retracts into its mouth "in much the same way that a measuring tape is stored in its case." That may not be the one I saw, who flew to a different tree just as I was getting ready to snap a photo. Foiled again!

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