Every so often, I hear the telltale thwack of skull hitting glass and know another bird has mistaken the sliding doors for a portal to wonderland. It’s a signal for the house predators to come running and me to check for feathered KO victims.
The latest was a downy woodpecker showing all the signs of a goner for sure, laid out like a done in prize fighter ready for the stretcher. Some of this cases never get up again. I’ve found little corpses of robins, starlings, warblers and, yes, woodpeckers lying below assorted windows. So there was nothing to do but wait.
Eventually, though, the spark of life began to revive. The bird managed to lever its head up enough to contemplate the mystery of where it was and why the sky was spinning.
Several more minutes of stunned reeling ensued, utterly oblivious to the drooling cats a couple of feet away. This is a critical stage. I have seen birds get this far then give up the ghost, keeling over for good. Woody here seemed on the cusp.
I think I even recognized this one, part of the cadre of local woodpeckers, both the downy and hairy varieties, devoted to my peanut feeder. This was one of the young ones, not too wise yet to the hazards of a woodpecker’s life, including invisible ones, like glass.
Suddenly, the little creature shook itself, got steady on its feet and swiveled its head around to a horrified awareness of its audience. Swift, panicky fluttering got it to the deck rail where it had to rest again. When the audience didn’t pursue, it calmed enough to shrug off the close call and go back to what it had undoubtedly been doing before — chasing mama to beg for food, the birdie version of the hulking teenager who simply won’t leave home.
Mama, an inveterate enabler, gave in and started feeding junior freeloader bits of peanut she saved her fully fledged youngster the trouble of pecking out of the feeder for itself.
She would not get approval from Dr. Phil. Unless it was her way of saying she was so glad young knucklehead had yet again managed to stay alive.