Monday, January 3, 2011

You Are My Sunshine Sunflowers and a Pileated Woodpecker Comes Knocking

You Are My Sunshine Sunflowers

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You Are My Sunshine Sunflowers is a bright new work keeping the studio warm today while the fattyhelpers lounge in front of their fancy new footheater. Studio Director AnnieBee joined Carlos and I for a trip to East Texas to mom's organic farm last week, and I was absolutely thrilled to see a Pileated Woodpecker while standing in her back yard one afternoon. This red headed fellow was huge! He was as big as a crow, and even as big as AnnieBee herself! He spent the entire time hanging upside down on a giant old oak tree pecking away at something delicious, before flying off toward the neighbor's Emu farm.

It is wonderful to live in Texas, where much of the land is still a haven for birds and wildlife. In the warmer months, we sit at my mother's kitchen table and watch the painted buntings, the whistling tree ducks, and dozens of other beautiful critters taking a dip in the birdbath or sampling the seeds nearby. Texas has had a booming population of hawks in the past few years, and a few families of red tailed hawks have built giant nests in the oaks on Mom's property. Each nest is the size of a car hood, and the hawks circle about the bird feeders, hoping to pick off the little ones scrounging for seeds below. I wish there were a way to protect the small birds, I hate seeing fewer come back each year because of the hawks.

One night Mom heard a huge ruckus on the upstairs deck, and the next morning found claw marks gouged in the wood. A Bobcat had been chasing a potential meal, we deduced, and had "treed" it up on the deck. There is never a dull moment on the farm, it's like Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom! I hope this never changes.



The Pileated Woodpecker
Photo copyright Tom Munson
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