It Must Be Spring

Yesterday I walked out to visit the cows. The four little Corrientes are no longer uncertain new babies. They are becoming confident and curious. When I sat down on a log my favorite, named Mouse for his color, gradually came closer until his charcoal “rubber” nose touched my outstretched finger. Shocking! He made an immediate retreat. My attention was then drawn to the rhythmic drumming of a pileated woodpecker on a hollow tree. Wait! The drumming was coming from two different directions. I set off on a search. There he was, bird number one! He was perched near the top of a rotten old twenty-foot snag that was nearly worn out by previous pecking. Okay, so where was his friend? I waited for him to sound off again and soon tracked him to a big dead poplar. It was in much better shape than the snag and produced a better resonance. (But, of course I would never tell bird number one that.) So, what was the meaning of this communication? The birds always took turns, waiting for the other one’s message to be complete before starting a reply. Were they a male and a female saying sweet nothings in Morse Code? Or were they two males loudly conveying the message, “Stay out of my territory or I’ll yank out your tailfeathers.?” Since male and female pileateds look the same I may never know the answer. A little farther along the trail two squirrels dashed across my path, one in hot pursuit of the other. Across logs they ran, then up a tree with a death-defying leap into the swaying branch of another tree, back down, and along the ground. Suddenly the pursuer turned aside and the other fled onward-only to have a third squirrel take up the chase. It was more fun than an action movie. But, was it love or war? I haven’t a clue.

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