Downy Woodpecker (dendrocopos pubescens)
The Downy Woodpecker
is a surprise resident
of midtown Manhattan,
because some blankety-blank developer
his natural habitat.
So he packed his beak
and shoved off for the big city
with his wife, but no kids,
and they must have leased a nest
somewhere near my terrace,
for they visited daily.
They were a snazzy couple,
similarly dressed in black and white,
except he sported a bright red cap.
My wife appreciated them
and provided them with suet,
which they ate in winter, spring and fall.
Then Mrs. Downy disappeared,
perhaps a victim of divorce,
or dead from unknown cause.
Mr. Downy still flies in for suet
three or four times daily,
but faces a constant battle.
Not much larger than a sparrow
and not as rugged,
he confronts a flock of sparrows,
hooligans who have forgotten
his unique occupation,
as nature's only working bird.
The Downy eats destructive bugs
from infested city trees,
but gets no respect from sparrows,
who claim the food source for themselves
and bully and chase the weaker birds,
imitating the way of man.
The sparrows are just like people,
consuming as if there is no tomorrow,
demanding larger and larger portions,
while the Downy loses his share
and is forced to search elsewhere
and may never be seen again.