Saturday, June 27, 2009
I was lookin' out my back window and witnessed a Kung-Fu encounter between a blue jay and a red-headed woodpecker. Jay was about 18% larger than Woody. I suppose there was a dispute over that prime worm ground beneath my large sycamore.
This warn't no ordinary back-yard bird fight. This was ritualized, stylized, and very entertaining.
The only things missing were a formal, roped-off ring and a crowd of nodding turtle dove monks.
It was obvious what martial art each had adopted. Jay had chosen the peripatetic Monkey-form, while Woody, poised and low to the ground – half-visible in my needs-to-be-mowed-again grass – would counter with the Snake-pattern.
Jay hopped hither-and-thither, trying to confuse and unnerve his opponent. Around in circles went his berserker simian dance. This is the truth: at one point, he approached close to Woody's noggin and cocked his head back and forth just like an arrogant organ-grinder monkey. Then he backed off and jumped to the right. And up into some sycamore shoots that I need to cut away from the big trunk. I could almost hear Jay chattering, egging on the quiet, but-ready-to-strike woodpecker.
Back on the ground. More prancing and dancing and circling. More ridiculous antics.
Every now and then, Woody would lash straight out at Jay, just like a freakin' snake. These guys had their styles down pat. Each time Woody attacked, Jay bounced back. The look on his face was astonishment. “How in the world is this little guy not impressed by me...and dang, that long bill looks sharp!”
Eventually, the match petered out with no clear winner. But if I were to judge the competition, I'd have to give Woody the laurel, even if just on style points. Such self-possession and such refusal of ostentation.