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Monday, October 25, 2010

Following the Frenzy

Pileated Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
My husband noticed first and called my attention to it. Peering outside, I readily saw the large Pileated Woodpecker pecking its way around the trunk of a Cedar tree. Nothing unusual there, but this one was in a frenzy, moving rapidly ‘round and ‘round. He flew into the Hawthorn tree, then back to the Cedar, then to the Hawthorn again. I noticed he was being pursued by Robins – first one, then another, until I could see an entire flock of them also flitting in and out of the Hawthorn. A Flicker joined the party, followed by a very noisy Steller’s Jay, which squawked and darted about among the chaos. The Pileated finally flew to another nearby tree, joined by the Flicker and a smaller Hairy Woodpecker; they appeared to be quietly regrouping. We wondered aloud what on earth was going on. After some moments of careful observation, I thought I knew.


Hawthorns produce many small, hard, red fruits, similar in appearance to tiny crabapples, which many birds enjoy. Robins are especially fond of these and the flock that we observed was made up of many young ones with less than fully-red breasts. They were probably enjoying a noisy feast when the unfortunate Pileated decided to grab a bite also. The traveling flock didn’t take kindly to his interruption and were reluctant to share; in fact they were downright rude in attempting to chase him off. At some point the other woodpeckers joined the fray and the know-it-all jay wanted in on the fun. Frenzy just naturally seems to attract and pull others in.
             Steller's Jay
And is it so very different with people? As children we may become part of a group, whether formed through a common interest, sport, or compatibility and friendship, which can be difficult for an outsider to break into. If that person happens to be very different from the others, in appearance, language, or behavior, they may be shunned, excluded, or even run off. The exclusivity may spread to the point where the outsider becomes a loner and then, desperate to simply “belong”, may fall in with other loners to form an opposing group.
Hairy Woodpecker
As adults we become more subtle, but none-the-less exclusive. The odd person out may simply not be included in conversation nor invited to various activities or events. Opposing groups form because of different beliefs, interests, opinions, or social status. Those who acquire money, belongings, and various benefits may be resented by those who do not and so divisiveness and controversy grow. Sharing occurs to some degree, but it all depends on our point of view and what we feel we personally have to gain - or lose. It has been so since the beginning.


As a multitude of issues continually swirl about us - whether childish taunts, religious beliefs, economic concerns, social statements, or possible Congressional reforms - we all need to take a close, thoughtful look in the mirror. Are we a member of a flock willing to share only so much, part of a group opposing a flock, seeking a reasonable bit for ourselves, or a simply a noisy voice attracted to the frenzy?

American Robin

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit,
but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
Each of you should look not only to your own interests,
but also to the interests of others.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 2:3-5

ALL bird pictures by Alan D. Wilson:
http://www.naturespicsonline.com/
Pileated Woodpecker, Copyright © 2010
Dar's Garden, Port Moody, British Columbia
Northern Flicker, Copyright © 2006
Cabin Lake Viewing Blinds,
Deschutes National Forest, Near Fort Rock, Oregon
Steller's Jay, Copyright © 2004
Pine Pass, British Columbia
Hairy Woodpecker (Male),  Copyright © 2009
Richmond Nature Park, Richmond, British Columbia
American Robin, Copyright © 2008
Blackie Spit Park, Crescent Beach, British Columbia

Used by permission of: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

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