Yesterday evening, I saw something quite unexpected. The acorn woodpeckers had been hanging out all afternoon, and just before sunset one was sitting on the telephone line out front. Another came up and perched near the first, who thereupon squawked loudly and chased the interloper away. The second bird returned, and there was another dispute. It became difficult to keep track of which bird was which, but one of them finally flew about fifty feet further north and alit on the wire there. The other followed, landing five or six feet from the first. There first then launched a ferocious attack, and both birds fell to the street in a tangle of flapping wings and loud squawks, landing with a plop that was audible sixty feet away. There on the ground they continued their fight. My cat had been sitting under a bush no more than a dozen feet from where the birds landed, and she immediately went after them. They realized their danger soon enough and took off, the slowest of them barely escaping becoming fast food for the cat. They vanished from sight, but I heard the racket they continued to make as they carried on with their battle among the trees. It was surprising to me that they were so hostile to each other. I've seen the woodpeckers squabble among themselves before, but never so viscously, and I have no idea what caused it. I don't know how to determine the sex of these birds, so I don't even know it the battlers were two males, two females, or a couple having a tiff.
The unfortunate thing is that this bird fight was the most exciting event to take place here in weeks. This is not a particularly lively town. Most of the time, this fact does not bother me, but once in a while I get so bored with the place that even the pathetic diversion provided by avian rivalry is welcome. I need a vacation. I'm sure I won't get one today, but maybe I'll have a dream about something interesting. I hope there aren't any birds in it.