THE WOODPECKER TAPPING ON THE HOLLOW OAK TREE
Most children who were taught music forty or fifty years ago, learnt as one of their first tunes an air called ' The Woodpecker Tapping on the Hollow Oak Tree.' Oak trees are not the only ones that woodpeckers, and especially American woodpeckers, ' tap' on. There is hardly any old tree which they disdain to work upon, sometimes for food, sometimes for nesting purposes, sometimes it would seem merely for the sake of employment and of keeping their bills in order.
For the woodpecker's bill is a very powerful instrument, and can get through a great deal of work. In the case of the ' ivory-billed woodpecker,' it is not only white, and hard, and strong, but it has a ribbed surface, which tends to prevent its breaking, and even if he does not form one of this class, the woodpecker is as clever in his own line as any carpenter, and more industrious than many. The moment that he notices symptoms of decay in any tree, he flies off to make a careful examination of it, and when he has decided on the best mode of attack, he loses no time, and has even been known to strip all the bark off a dead pine tree of thirty feet long in less than twenty minutes. And this not in little bits, but in sheets five or six feet long, and as whole as the fleece of a sheep when it is sheared.
Of course different varieties of woodpeckers have little differences in their habits, in the same way that habits