Archive for the ‘Woodpecker Narcissism’ Category
Saturday, February 19, 2005
Knowing of our strange relationships with woodpeckers here at Playa Vista over the years one of the good friends of the house showed us the following piece from his Lonely Planet travel guidebook on the Dominican Republic and Haiti the other day. The word by word piece quoted below opens a somewhat quirky window on a peculiar point of view shared by the original inhabitants of this island – namely the Taino Indians:
Woodpeckers and women
Taino mythology is rich – and often bizarre. According to Taino elders, in the beginning the human race lived in two caves that could not be left on sunny days lest the people be turned into stone by the sun’s rays. Angered by the sun, an Indian named Guaguyona decided to leave the caves, and he convinced all of the women to join him. As days passed, the remainder of the men grew upset that they had no women. They went out to find some on rainy days, but to no avail. Then one day the men came upon several persons who were neither male nor female. The men tried to catch them but the genderless creatures slipped through their grasps like eels. A chief then sent for some people whose hands had turned rough from a disease, and with their roughened hands the diseased people were able to catch the slippery, sexless creatures. The men held the genderless creatures against the ground, bound their hands and feet, and covered their bodies with woodpeckers!. The birds pecked at the place where the woman’s sex organs would be, effectively turning the creatures into women. And this, according to Taino mythology, is how men again came to enjoy the company of women. Conveniently, the sun’s rays stopped turning people into stone from that day forward, and people were able to go about freely during daylight hours.
Bringing the subject right up to date we can resolutely and thankfully confirm that people, gendered or genderless, do indeed continue to go around in daylight hours free from any fear of woodpecker attack or being transformed into stone for that matter. It goes without saying that in this land of almost continuous sunshine it would be perversely restrictive if people felt they could only venture out on rainy days.
Clearly the woodpeckers are equally free to roam around for in spite of our last entry on the subject (November 8th), which even portended the end of our association with Woody, he is very much still out and about. Our inhibiting plastic mesh most certainly ended the incessant rapping at the kitchen window where he had been so active but after lying low he seems to have come back with a vengeance though be it in a different style. For several weeks there was no sign of him until he, totally out of character, quietly appeared again at the other, unmeshed, kitchen window just staring at his own reflection. The further good news is that he now starts his visits later in the mornings and is very much less physical towards the window and therefore less disturbing of the peace. The bad news is that he then flits upstairs where he has found renewed vigor and interest in the frame of the reflective glass door which by way of a new challenge is aluminum. He comes to rest almost in exactly the same place each time; he admires himself in the window as before and now generates a remarkable staccato drilling sound with his heavily aggressive beak on the painted metal frame. As yet the metal has held up but unfortunately his toilet control hasn’t… for after each visit he leaves an acidic pile of waste material immediately beneath his hammering station on the nicely polished wooden floor.
So, we wonder, is it that our newly re-named “pecker” is in this bizarre way trying to relive the days of yore and re-staking his claim to a bigger piece of the action as the Taino Indians clearly allowed his ancestors to have… or has the crazy little head-banging heavy-metalpecker just brain-damaged himself with his indiscriminate pecking and finally gone totally mad?
Monday, November 8, 2004
We believe it is finally the end of an era and we imagine also the last of our reports on our freaky friend Woody Windowpecker and his continuous furious attacks on his own reflection which he obviously took for a dangerous stranger challenging his territory. Fear not woody-fans, we presume he is in reasonably good physical health somewhere, although his mental health could be a matter of concern. Simply put we had to take measures to preserve our own sanity and regain some peace and quiet especially in the dawn hours when Woody was particularly active in battering our kitchen window with that unyielding beak of his.
As observers of the crazy pecker’s “peculiar” antics as you will know by now we are, (see the ongoing saga in the archives July 19th, Sept. 29th also May 8th and Sept 9th last year) we have put forward a number of theories to try and explain his odd behavior. Our final theory is that he quite simply has gone partially or completely insane. He just does not seem to have learned anything in all these months… zero progress. It could be that now even his wife has left him in frustration.
Tracing the story back to the beginning we reported that it was his dear wife who first visited our reflective kitchen window seemingly to admire herself, for she never pecked the window at all, merely posed and occasionally pawed at it – quite harmless one would think. Woody went from being largely uninterested at the beginning to being completely obsessed with his own image. We even have a sneaking suspicion that in those weeks he was absent he was actually undergoing addiction rehabilitation… nudge, nudge! We watched him closely on the day of his return when again it was his wife who seemed to be coaxing him back to the window almost as if to test that he had truly broken the habit. The first couple of days it seemed that the rehab had worked for he was quite withdrawn, but very soon after that he was right back to fully fledged attacks for maniacal extended periods of time starting very early every morning. His wife has been conspicuous in her absence ever since making us think that she perhaps has even disowned her irreconcilable addict partner… or is she off looking for a better rehab center for him? Anyway… we candidly could not tolerate the noise any more and put up a plastic screen to cover the window. Our first few days after that action have been blissfully quiet at least with regard to window tapping. Perhaps the new situation will even do the service of helping him to kick the habit by denying his supply. Apprehensively though, we do recognize there are plenty of other windows he could get used to if he should remain inconsolable. We shall let the story lie there unless of course you should be irritatingly woken early one morning by the same reverberant tapping sound from crazy old Woody. We will gladly pass on any news about Woody’s whereabouts, he is after all a good old friend of the family – if just a little nutty!
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
‘Woody’ and his wife are back!
For the first time, sparing no expense, we present photographic evidence of the cheeky chappie.
You may remember back in July, 19th to be precise, we reported on the sudden disappearance of our feathered twosome conjecturing at the time as to how and why their departure could be quite so abrupt when they had been so attentive at the one-way kitchen window for so long.
Our prime theory of Woody simply abandoning the futile stalemate of a fight with his own reflection out of sheer frustration was clearly wrong for he is back fitter than ever manically beating at the window from the early morning again. He has even crafted a new technique where he is hovering, scrabbling at the window with his left foot at the same time as bludgeoning the glass with his powerful beak. It would seem that like the majority of our holidaying visitors he just took a vacation in order to recharge his batteries!
(You may, or may not, like to consult May 8th and Sept 9th last year for further references to the ongoing story)
Meanwhile seven years later:
We know now that the usual problem of our human encroachment was the final nail in the coffin of Woody’s odd antics. Woody had to stop when that parking lot was laid next door and all the trees were removed. Many thanks for the entertainment though Woody!
Monday, July 19, 2004
Here at Playa Vista we try to welcome all our visitors with a pleasant disposition and a smile, and those of you who read our missives regularly will know that even extends to our visitors of the feathered variety (see the archived blogs Narcissism and Original Woody Woodpecker).
So… this week it is with mixed feelings that we report on the complete absence of the normal daily visits of our eccentric mirror battling woodpecker. Mixed because we have become so used to having him around almost like a member of the family, but on the other hand our sleep is no longer punctuated at the crack of dawn because of his frantic and resonant attacks on the kitchen window and window frame. We are left merely to conjecture on the reason for his sudden non-showing in exactly the same way as we sometimes wonder whatever happened to “so and so” who might have become a regular bar visitor and then suddenly disappears into thin air. Our immediate reaction is to fear for our Woody’s well-being, something tragic perhaps has befallen him. Or is it just a casual matter, as with so many of our visitors, he simply packed his bags and flew on. However, our best theory is that he has finally, and quite smartly, thrown in the white towel and given up after trying to out-peck, nay fiercely destroy, his reflective adversary and constant threat to his territory for so long. We think he took the sensible course and finally decided that the stubborn challenger was just too tough!
However we do take this opportunity to make a pleasing report on behalf of Woody’s many cousins. The welcome news is that the trend with regard to bird life at least in our immediate vicinity is very definitely on the up. Waking early in the morning – not any longer because of errant old Woody though – one can now hear quite a cacophony of bird sound which certainly was not the case just a few years ago. This is confirmed by one of our most regular of regulars who, ironically with his one good eye, has been carefully observing all the changes for many years in Boca Chica and he too is surprised at how much the bird population has expanded because some years ago he says the locals used to chase them all away with sling shots.
The familiar sparrow is as common here as in other parts of the world (although the wannabe woodpecker sparrow appearing in the May 8th blog has also given up whatever was his quest in pecking the upstairs windows), frigate birds elegantly glide in the air currents on high, weaver birds flit through on a regular basis and even nested last year next to our washing line. You might see an occasional pelican diving for fish in the lagoon and we have had reports of humming bird sightings. In addition there are numerous types unfamiliar to our European eyes, all adding to the tremendous dawn chorus and this summer, for the first time, we notice a very sizeable flock of martins diving and climbing above the Playa Vista terazza at supper time to be followed almost in the blink of an eye by bats circling in exactly the same territory under and alongside the trees searching for their daily intake of insects. The only thing missing in the picture is our good old friend Woody! But, who knows… like most of those other flyaway visitors of ours, he might just turn up again some fine day along the way!
Meanwhile seven years later:
As you now know Woody and his friends cannot return to the trees on the west side of Playa Vista because those trees have been removed to make way for the neighbor’s parking lot. However, the very large almond tree to our east has been attracting a large number of delightfully noisy birds to feed because of an extensive mistletoe-like growth all over the tree. The growth is so extensive one fears for the very survival of the tree but the birds love it!
Saturday, May 8, 2004
We have from time to time described the animal life around us here at Playa Vista and we offer a little update. In spite of the major cull on the stray dogs in Boca Chica you will still notice a few parading around town in their own seemingly carefree way. Are they just the tough survivors of the early-April purge or do they come from that same, whereabouts unknown, stockpile of dogs from whence came original dog? Unfortunately, but seemingly quite naturally, some of them have unerringly already learned or relearned the irritating habit of barking raucously at the same time as their predecessors – that is when all civilized residents and visitors are fast asleep.
Our pair of green woodpeckers referred to in the story of Sept 9th last year is still sticking close to the one-way glass although the nature of their antics has changed. It was, you may remember, the female of the pair that initiated the whole mirror-charade whereas the male, with obvious reluctance, finally began to join in. It would seem that the male in particular has gone through a period of serious woodpecker self-analysis over the months, because he has moved on from merely tolerating his partners whims to taking up a seriously aggressive stance against what he clearly sees now only as a threatening invader to his territory. The hefty blows of his specialized beak directly on the glass can be heard resonating now in the early mornings, often at the very break of dawn, and it became so repetitive and drawn out it was obvious he had taken it upon himself to completely remove this irksome adversary – every single morning. How else could a full-powered beak repeatedly launched directly at an image in this way be interpreted! Months of persistence have unfortunately not paid off for the poor bird because his irritating antagonist continues to pop up unfailingly at exactly the same time as him on every single occasion. He has lessened his attacks in recent days which we take as a sign of mild compromise or possibly simple exhaustion, not that he has given up by any means, and we have noticed the female begin to sneak in again in the late afternoon for a check up on her undoubtedly attractive attire. However, there is an odd development: the habit seems to have passed on to a sparrow that last week began every single morning with an onslaught on the one-way glass doors on the second floor.
Let’s see how persistent that little wannabe pecker is compared with pro old-timer ‘Woody’!
Meanwhile seven years later:
The sparrow, being a sparrow perhaps, soon gave up and unfortunately in the normal manner of economic development the protective trees next door were removed to create a parking lot which saw the Woody and wife show come to an abrupt end!
Tuesday, September 9, 2003
We get a lot of visitors at Playa Vista of all types in wide-ranging shapes and colors with all sorts of behavior patterns. Two of the most regular and enjoyable to observe are easily recognizable in that they always wear green and bear red headdresses. However their behavior pattern does differ quite a bit from the usual bar visitor… or does it? They are a pair of green woodpeckers who could be pioneers in their species due to their persistent curiosity mixed with not a little narcissism. They visit daily the one-way glass window we have in our kitchen and seemingly have a real good time admiring themselves in the reflection. The one-way nature of the glass makes them unaware of anyone standing on the other side. However, once you tap on the window or the wall curiosity takes over from the narcissism and they start scrabbling around in a variety of fascinating ways including mating rituals – just like the regular visitors to the bar, eh? – as they preen and pose and endeavor to find out what the noise is all about. Neither is this a passing fad; they have been entertaining themselves in this way for many months. Our own observations indicate that the female of the pair was more interested in the self admiration but the male seems to be just as hooked on the curiosity angle as she ever was on admiration. On an extreme day they spend hours in front of the glass and the day before yesterday they were there at sun up and still there at sun down sitting motionlessly as if they were waiting for the next showing, or a “significant” message from the “other side”- just like the regular visitors to the bar, or what?
Meanwhile seven years later:
It was indeed a very unusual daily performance from our social woodpeckers. They continued for several months and then their visits did become less frequent. However the final nail in the coffin of their visits to the Playa Vista bar was the complete removal of the trees from the adjacent plot of land – as usual in the name of development.