The Missing Woodpecker | By: Lalitha Balasubramanian | | Category: Short Story - Children Bookmark and Share

The Missing Woodpecker



Lalitha Balasubramanian

“Tic-tac ------ Tic-tac-------Tic-tac.”

The rhythmic sound of the woodpecker woke Sneha up from her deep sleep. She rubbed her eyes with her little hands and walked towards the window. This was a daily practice for the sweet little girl. She loved to watch the old tree in the municipal garden just opposite her verandah. All types of birds would perch on the wide branches, one of which almost touched her verandah grill. Today, a woodpecker was making a hole in the bark of the tree. 

“Sneha dear,” called her mother. “Get up, brush your teeth and come down, will you?”

“Just a minute, Mummy,” Sneha called back. She somehow managed to drag her eyes away from the colorful bird, and went to get ready for breakfast.

As usual, there was a big commotion in the morning, with her father getting ready for office, her brother and she preparing to go to school, and her mother trying to attend to all their needs at the same time.

“Arun, Sneha!”

This was Poornima, her friend, indicating that the school bus was coming. The children flung their school bags over their shoulder and ran down. 

“Bye Mom, Bye Dad,” they waved as they joined the other children to board the bus.

That evening, Sneha brought her friend home to look at the woodpecker. To their delight, they saw something new. Two small red beaks were popping out from the hole that the bird had made.  

“Those are the bird’s kids, aren’t they?” Poornima exclaimed.

“Yes,” replied Sneha skipping in excitement.

“I wonder why they are making such a lot of noise,” said Poornima.

“They must be hungry, the poor things,” replied Sneha.

Wanting to share her excitement she called out “Mummy, come here. See this sight.”

Her mother came to join them on the balcony.

Just then, they saw the woodpecker flying towards the hole. It was carrying something in its beak. The children watched fascinated, as the mother bird put the food into the open beaks of the small birds.

Soon it was time for Poornima to leave. But the two friends decided that they would see the woodpecker every evening at the same time.  The woodpecker grew used to the children’s chitter- chatter and would perch unafraid on the branch accepting the grains they spread on a tray for it. Days passed.

One day, however, when the girls were coming back from school, Sneha noticed some men coming out from the garden with branches slung over their shoulders.

“Did you see that, Poornima,” she asked.

Poornima nodded. “Are you thinking what I am thinking?”

‘Were the branches from their tree? If so, what would have happened to the woodpecker and its little ones?’

The girls ran to the balcony. They were shocked by what they saw. The branches had all been cut. The flowers were scattered like a carpet on the ground.

“Oh my God!” exclaimed Sneha.

“Our woodpecker is not to be seen,” cried Poornima.

The children could not bear to think of what could have happened to the friendly bird and its little ones. “How could those people do this?” lamented Sneha. “What wrong has it done to deserve such a fate?”

Sneha was really upset. Her mother seeing the children’s grief, came up and consoled them.

“Don’t worry girls,” she said, clasping them close to her heart. “The woodpecker would have sensed the danger and saved herself and her children.”

The children were not convinced. Yet, Poornima had to go home. So she did. But both children could not sleep that night.  

Morning dawned.

“Tic-tac-------tic-tac---------tic-tac” went the sound. Sneha got up with a start. ‘Was she dreaming?’

She tip toed to the verandah and lo and behold! There was the beautiful little woodpecker pecking away at another branch of another tree in the same garden. Two smaller woodpeckers were hovering around her.

A huge smile broke out on Sneha’s face, as she picked up the phone to convey the good news to her dearest friend.


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