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Thursday, May 16, 2013 01:47 pm


If you’re enjoying the early morning coolness with a stroll in Washington Park, don’t be alarmed if you hear a metallic rat-a-tat nearby. It’s just a woodpecker who likes to sit atop the light posts by the western “lower” lagoon. Although woodpeckers are known for drilling into trees to eat burrowing insects, the University of Illinois Extension says woodpeckers often “drum” on metallic objects to announce their territory and attract mates. The one we’ve seen in the park appears to be a downy woodpecker, which is about the size of a house sparrow, with a short beak, a white breast, and black and white bars on its back and wings. It lacks the striking red crest of Woody the Woodpecker, though it does have a small red spot on the back if its head. Speaking of birds, if you visit Washington Park in the evening, you may hear the familiar “who-who” call of an owl. While we’ve never gotten a good look at them, we think there may be more than one, and we’re excited they’ve made the park their home. Woodpeckers and owls are protected under state and federal law, so don’t hurt or mess with them. Just appreciate the beauty and diversity of the animals in our urban wilderness.