Woodpeckers and their pecking orders

Woodpeckers of Himalaya

Woodpeckers underline the echoes of winter… their tap-taps breaking the silence of the otherwise brooding woods… as the chirps of other avifauna punctuate their own little surrounds, woodpeckers fill the whole forest with their drumming… rhythm and bass section, one muses, watching these birds bristling about the oaks and pines in a no-nonsense manner… for theirs is a tale of rigour over panache, form following function in a manner that enthralls engineers and nature lovers alike…

Woodpeckers of Himalaya
Brown-fronted woodpecker

In the stillness of winter ‘tis relatively easier to locate them as they reverberate through the woods, but waiting on them to be still for a while as they weave around the tall trees can be an exasperating chore more often than not… there are three species that are quite ubiquitous around the house, each flitting about the forest with their own idiosyncrasies… I always manage to find the brown-fronted woodpecker high up a tree, and usually on the way up as well… climbing over parapets to gain some height does little to help, but one goes through the ritual anyway…

Woodpeckers of Himalaya
Grey-headed woodpecker

The grey-headed woodpecker, in contrast, can often be startled out of the lower fringes of trees… compared to rest of its brethren, it carries a rather lazy demeanour, as if trying to commensurate with its relatively larger size… it also sports a look that is part sheepish and part blasé, at peace in the darker nooks of the woods, patiently scraping and probing the tree barks… the lesser yellownape is the show-off of the three, flaunting its bright plumage gregariously and headbanging with a ferocity bordering on some vengeance…

Lesser yellownape
Lesser yellownape

Unlike pheasants and many other birds that tease one for a few moments in the open before scurrying back into the tangle of these thickets, woodpeckers at least offer a clearer glimpse, albeit distant, into their unique subsistence… excavating insects while deftly avoiding the associated paraphernalia of mould and sawdust, defying gravity and predators… all the while drumming up activity in frosty environs…

Musing on woodpeckers, Ranikhet, Uttarakhand

Author: Parth Joshi

Mountain lover ⛰️ | Hiker 🥾| Runner 🏃‍♂️ | Cyclist 🚴 | Photographer 📷... allured by the outdoors, the author is a quintessential lost soul craving nature while suffering in a desk job...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *