In these unpredictable and troubling times, it’s good to have a few things you can rely on. This spring, one dapper bird and a whole lot of small amphibians provided me with just that.
For a month or longer,”Sappy”, the bird in the photo above, would show up at his worksite (or perhaps her worksite – the sexes look alike). There, at the old, multi-trunked Bigleaf maple just outside our front door, he/she would put in a lengthy shift, working up and down the main trunk, tapping and poking the rough bark for sap and insects. The routine never varied, which I found comforting.
Red-breasted sapsuckers (Sphyrapicus ruber) live in our region year-round, so we often see these beautiful birds, or hear their calls, which remind me of a supercharged squeaky toy. But it was a treat to be able to watch this one at such close range, often at eye level, for so many days. Sappy has moved on since then, likely to some other nearby tree, where he/she is probably busy sharing parental duties with a mate.
Another creature that has brought me comfort this spring is the Pacific Chorus frog (AKA Pacfic Tree frog, Pseudacris regilla). I haven’t seen any – we won’t for a few months yet – but each night for the past eight weeks, a loud choir has been steadily broadcasting from our pond, as lusty males call out in search of mates.
The pulsing rhythm of their song has lulled me to sleep. And it has brought me comfort in the knowledge that these imperiled amphibians are still here, striving to bring forth the next generation.
Long may Sappy tap, and the Chorus frogs sing.