Neighbor lauds care in which tree company saves birds

It started with a decaying water oak in my neighbor’s backyard, one I kept a suspicious eye on each hurricane season. The old wily fella was falling apart, and I’d been told that older men have issues with trees—that they want to clear them out without provocation. Not this time. When I heard my neighbor was finally taking down the mighty tree turned hazard, I was happy.

A tree surgeon’s kindness saves a red-bellied woodpecker and her family.

In the process of its disassembly, though, John Hamilton (of John Hamilton Tree Service), discovered an unexpected issue with the tree—namely a family of Red-bellied Woodpeckers who were housed within a hollowed-out limb. 

To his credit, Hamilton took the issue to my neighbor, and they set out to find a solution. A crane was brought in to take down the larger limbs, and they took care to lower the heavy, occupied limb, so as not to wreck the life within. 

My neighbor constructed a wooden box and attached it to a twelve-foot beam, a make-shift habitat. They carried the limb up, and straddled it across the perch box, bird-entrance hole facing up. 

When I saw the culmination of their effort, heard the sound of the chicks within—the mother bird going about her life, adapting—I was moved the way I’ve heard other people say they are moved by something out of the blue. They did this. These guys. On a day when our pandemic selves felt up in the air, they saved some birds. They rescued a family.

It is worth noting, the conservation status of the Red-bellied Woodpecker is listed as “of least concern.” They are a common bird. Yet that didn’t matter to Hamilton and his crew, which leads me to ask, how many others would have made this same complicated choice?

For weeks now we have all adapted to new ways of getting along. We have learned different versions of fear and love. I’ve felt guilty going the wrong way down an aisle at Publix and have apologized profusely for doing so. But they took their time, acted humanely, and built something to save something.  

It can be catastrophic, these changes to our habitats—the disease in the tree and the one rooting through our world. It is as simple as this: parents want to feed their children, have a safe place to come home to. This small, well-thought out act reminds us of the care we should all take with love—where we house it, and how we preserve it.

Submitted by Fred Dale

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