"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Do Woodpeckers Really Smile?

By Micky Wolf

No, that is not a woodpecker. Yes, it is a big, beautiful blue jay.

No, this is not a bait and switch of beaks and feathers.

You see we have three species of woodpeckers who visit our feeders. And every darn one of them is so skittish the slightest movement (from our favorite viewing spot on the other side of the glass deck door) is more than sufficient to send them skittering off (thus far) before we can snap a picture.

Maybe contemplating the idea of smiling woodpeckers is an exercise in silliness. On the other hand, my beloved and I have needed to persevere through some challenging days in recent weeks. Seasonal sickness and an extended family member in crisis have diverted our attention and consumed our energies. Ergo our gratitude and appreciation for the lighter moments.

The truth is I couldn’t say I’ve ever seen a woodpecker or blue jay smile. For that matter, is such a behavior even possible for our winged-chirping friends?

What I do know to be true is that God created the birds and the bees and all the creatures of the land, sky and sea. While many serve what could be considered utilitarian purposes, I’m of a mind the Divine never intended they be reduced to little more than entertaining targets or gourmet meals.

I’ve learned that when I take a little time to notice, God’s creatures make me smile. And more. Their antics lift the spirits. Observing them for a few moments can be tonic for the weary body, balm for a frazzled brain.

For example…how is it a bird of any description can hang upside down and swallow a seed without collapsing in a frantic-feather-flying-fit of choking?

Or why is it a dozen of them show up at one time—a crush of hungry critters, notwithstanding our five feeders—and then dash about in fits and starts trying to secure an open peg to stand on?

There’s no doubt such goings on make us smile. Which could also mean it takes little to amuse my beloved and me.

Yet it could also be true God is smiling as well. Which is why I’d like to believe that is one delightful explanation for why those woodpeckers and blue jays exist in the first place.

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