“You have now, kind reader, under consideration a family of woodpeckers, the general habits of which are so well known in our United States, that, were I assured of your having traversed the woods of America, I should feel disposed to say little about them.

The Red-heads . . . remain in the southern districts [of the U.S.] during the whole winter, and breed there in summer.  The greater number, however, pass to countries farther south.  Their migration takes place under night, is commenced in the middle of September, and continues for a month or six weeks.  They then fly very high above the trees, far apart, like a disbanded army, propelling themselves by reiterated flaps of the wings . . .”

I would not recommend to anyone to trust their fruit to the Red-heads; for they not only feed on all kinds as they ripen, but destroy an immense quantity besides.  No sooner are the cherries seen to redden, than these birds attack them.  They arrive on all sides, coming from a distance of miles . . . Trees of this kind are stripped clean by them . . .

It is impossible to form any estimate of the number of these birds seen in the United States during the Summer months; but this much I may safely assert, that an hundred have been shot upon a single cherry tree in one day.”

–J. J. Audubon, Ornithological Biography, I (1831), 141-142 [excerpts].

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