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GRANDMA SAYS: Feather weather

Lee Hobin snapped a photo of these woodpeckers in East Uniacke, N.S.,
Lee Hobin snapped a photo of these woodpeckers in East Uniacke, N.S., - Submitted

Last Wednesday evening I was out washing my car in the driveway - move over robin red breast, that’s a true sign of spring – but, I digress. While I was out, I could hear the “toc toc” sound of a woodpecker on a nearby maple tree. I could also hear the more pleasant sound my Grandma’s voice saying, “we won’t be hanging laundry out to dry tomorrow, it’s going to rain.”
Grandma was convinced that when woodpeckers were hammering on a tree, there was rain coming. Sure enough, a line of showers pushed across the city Thursday afternoon.

Over the years, I have found this weather observation to be quite accurate, but why? Could there be an explanation? I’ve spent some time looking in to this and found yet another connection between science and nature.

Woodpeckers feed on insects. Many insects become more active when the air pressure drops, and the humidity rises; both these things happen ahead of an area of low pressure or rain maker.

The insects come out of crevices in the bark; the woodpecker sees the ants and other tasty treats crawling on the bark and he settles in for a feast.

Experts agree there are cases where woodpeckers do find food in wood, but most of the late winter and early spring drilling or hammering as Grandma called it, is done to make a noise to court mates. This is the woodpecker’s way of singing a song to declare territory. This answers the question I received last week from Lee Hobin. Lee wanted to know if Grandma had anything to say about two woodpeckers going around and around and up and down a tree together looking like they were about to kiss. I guess that solves that little mystery, too!

I’ve said this many times before: if we take time to look and listen, nature can teach us so much!

Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network.

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