The Natural World

On my way to hear a talk about the history of hunting in Wisconsin, a pileated woodpecker flew low past my windshield. It’s such a treat to see this large, colorful, fairly rare bird. It needs a large foraging area and this part of town suits its habitat. Twice I’ve seen one perched on a tree in my backyard and every now and again flying overhead in the neighborhood. The talk about hunting was more sobering. Deer seem plentiful enough today and we constantly complain about the damage they do to the plants and shrubbery in our yards, but the scale of slaughter of these animals in previous centuries gives one pause. The continent obviously once teemed with wildlife. It wasn’t only the buffalo driven near to extinction. Still, there is a lot of wildlife nearby. A cougar is sighted every now and then, foxes pretty often and bear much more frequently. Wild turkeys and of course the rodent class abound. Small woodpeckers are doing more damage to the cedar siding on my house than in any previous year. I don’t entirely begrudge them their foraging habits.