I Hear You Knockin’

An unusually warm and largely snow-free Rochester winter led to an early Spring.

Confusing as much to the fauna as to the flora, deer coats changed color prematurely and green sprouts emerged from the ground.

Snowplow contractors banked plenty of dough without having to plow much snow. My own, for instance, plowed a couple of times seemingly more out of guilt than obligation.

Still, few seemed upset at the mild winter. Maybe skiers, but they’re notorious whiners claiming to participate in a sport. As if putting two sleds on your feet and sliding down a hill is some kind of accomplishment or requires some kind of special skill.

What else is supposed to happen?

(Try skiing up the hill. That sounds more like a sport.)

Calendar notations and mercury readings aside, the one sure sign Spring has arrived is announced unambiguously and nosily.

A recent trip to the curb to retrieve the Sunday newspaper made the point all too clear. Somewhere, thankfully off in the distance, the hammering could be heard.

And it was not the sound of framers assembling a structure or sheathers enclosing it.

Oh, no.

Woodpeckers. Most are tiny in size though large in volume. But appearances should not fool homeowners who foolishly encase their abode with wooden siding.

The merits of vinyl and aluminum, finally, are clear.

Possessing industrial-strength suction cups at the end of their tiny legs, these birds can latch onto any vertical surface. Once perched, they pound away with ferocious persistence.

These little guys can peck a hole with a three-inch diameter and clear down to the tarpaper in under two minutes.

And once they’ve fixed on a spot, they are tough to dissuade. I know. I’ve tried barking at them, bringing out a real dog to do the barking and clapping my hands.

Oh, they may fly off to a nearby branch for a moment or two. Then they’re back at it.

They possess a facial demeanor rivaling that of Joan Jett or Chrissie Hynde: mess with me and I’ll whup your behind two weeks to Tuesday and make you like it!

Though absent the flamboyance and falsetto of Little Richard (except for the pileated variety with its striking red crown), the Spring woodpecker is persistent and productive; they’re achievers and accomplishers.

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