Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Red-headed Plum-pecker

Moon Gold and Sun Gold are the two varieties of Oriental plum in our orchard. You have to get more than one variety, for cross pollination, if you want fruit -- and we want fruit. The cherry trees, we understand, are the domain of the birds. We never expect to get more than one or two cherries for ourselves. The blueberry bushes we cover, otherwise all berries would be bird food before they ever turned from green to blue. We resign ourselves, each year, to a few beak-marked apples... but the plums...

The plums had gone unnoticed, we thought. Last year was the first year that the young trees really produced a good crop of plums, fruit large enough to be sweet and worth eating. The birds seemed not to notice, or were in some way unimpressed with the fruit. So this year we have been watching the trees, salivating.

This year we have noticed, however, that even while the fruit is still green the birds are pecking it from the limb. They are eating our plums! Then today the nameless feathered "they" took form. I sat in the orchard for a few minutes with the dogs and watched as a red-headed woodpecker drilled into a plum.

It chortled.
Pecked the fruit again.
"Quk. Quk. Quk."
"One more hole."
"One more ant."

And then I noticed the smaller bird sitting on the branch just below my flashing red-headed plum-pecker. Dark in color it blended with the branch and alone I might never have seen it there. I noticed the smaller bird because the talkative woodpecker pecked at the green plum and then stretched out it's beak to the smaller bird. A parent feeding a child. Our plums have become a lesson, teaching the fledgling how to find food, showing the unique ways that God provides for all His Creation, and blessing me with the joy of sharing that moment and that fruit.

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