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Friday, 16 December 2011

Wounded Woodpecker

By Mary B Summerlin who keeps a photostream at Flickr


Last week, one morning had a spectacular beginning. I was moving around in a semi-awake state as is usual for the beginning of my day. I was in the kitchen fixing something for breakfast when I heard a loud thump. I went to the studio to check it out. Opened the sliding glass door and there on the deck floor was a woodpecker, lifeless.

I have a suet feeder right about where he fell. Evidently he got confused, missed the suet and flew into the window knocking himself out. It was a miracle there were no cats around.

I quickly picked him up, held him and went inside for warmth.

I sat there holding him, trying to think of a container to put him in or a safe place to put him but could think of nothing that was better than me holding him. I was afraid that if I put him down somewhere outside one of my animals (two dogs and three cats) would cause a problem.

If I put him down inside and he began to fly around then getting him out would be a big problem. My thinking was that holding him would be short term since he looked healthy. He was a Hairy Woodpecker I think.

So I held him for about five minutes and then he became alert. He started looking around and making strong movements. It was time to go outside and see if he was ready to rejoin nature. I went outside, opened my hand and off he flew – swift and strong.

He chirped “thank you” as he flew away. Now I know what that sound is that I hear most mornings. It’s a Hairy Woodpecker.

While I was holding him, I really wanted to take a picture. What a chance for a close up and I also wanted to document this occasion so my friends would believe me. I had no idea how difficult it is to take a photo with one hand. Friends, it is next to impossible. Of course I didn’t let that stop me. I tried and tried. Finally I got two good ones.

I was so pleased when I saw them on the computer. After rejoicing at my success, another reality hit me. Is that my hand? Can’t be? My hand is not blotchy and wrinkled like that hand. It must be my hand. Seems I had not really noticed or paid attention and there is an old hand indicating the passage of time.

Sometimes things just creep up on me like the blotchy wrinkled hand. But other things are the same since I can remember. I always rescued animals, any kind of animals. Maybe the first bird I ever held, took care of and made pets with were the chickens we raised on the farm.

Mary B Summerlin

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. PLEASE read instructions for submitting..]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post



I just made a fist and held it up to the picture of you holding the Woodpecker and our hands are pretty much identical.

The main difference being that I am not comforting and warming a cold and semi concious bird.

I don't think he noticed your hand wrinkles as he flew away and chirped "Thank you".

very touching little expose on life, love and aging. thank you for touching my heart this morning.

Thank you for sharing a totally heartwarming story.

I join Nancy & Debra, lovely to read this morning..only an "old seasoned hand" would have known what to do and do it..But I know what you mean, I ride the subway twice a day three times a week at least and get on l0 miles away from midtown..Lots of women, nary a male, use their hour ride to apply makeup, yes in a crowded train & many just use their hand-creams..once in a while, I look down at my "paws" and think - I should have moisturized..these little "mitts" have served me well for 70.9 years..so say we all...who knew there are hairy woodpeckers! Thanks for another interesting read..

Isn't it nice to live where we can be close to wildlife (and save their lives.) I did the same thing as Nancy, closed my fist to see if I had as many wrinkles as you do. My problem is that it wouldn't close all the way--as usual. But I did find the wrinkles. One of the few benefits of getting old is that we have more time to observe the life around us and in your case that morning, assisting in saving a life. You have written a great connection story. Loved it.

Only a hand wrinkled with years of caring could figure out how to take that picture that contrasted so beautifully with that of you holding the hen.

I love that you enclosed the picture of you as a child. I loved chickens, too,and had several pet roosters. Lovely story. And these hands are our badges of honor!

Thank you for your caring comments. It is so good to be a part of a supportive community.

Yes, it was a touching story, but my, weren't you a pretty girl! ;-)

Oh my - you made me blush.
Thank you.

Amazing picture. Loving my magpies and all other birds as much as you do all animals made my heart beat a little faster that there are others who care for our feathered friends.

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