Hey! Remember Woody Woodpecker–that hilarious cartoon character with the maniacal laugh?*
Well, Woody has absolutely nothing to do with the subject of this story other than the fact that he was a woodpecker. He was the first thing that popped into my head when I heard about the Sixth Annual Thornapple Woodpecker Festival, which happens this Saturday, April 30 in Middleville, Mich.
Unbeknownst to me, there is an established population of the rare Red-headed Woodpecker–plus five eastern U.S. woodpeckers–along Middleville’s former railroad line, now called the Paul Henry Thornapple River Trail. The rail trail, which follows the Thornapple River, has been called the most beautiful in Michigan. The old railroad followed the river and was built in the 1800s. Today, ducks, geese, swans, herons, cranes, and other water birds are commonly seen on the bayous along the trail. It’s a birder’s paradise.
The Festival will feature birding walks, expert guest presentations, a craft show and a silent auction. The Plein Air Artists of West Michigan (PAAWM) will have artists painting along the trail, and a golf cart shuttle will be available throughout the day. Please consider a small donation for shuttle service.
Park behind the Village Hall at 100 E. Main St. in Middleville on the east side of the river. Public restrooms are available in the Village Hall. Click here for a pdf about the day’s events.
*Woody was inspired by an annoying acorn woodpecker that kept the cartoon’s producer Walter Lantz and his wife Gracie awake at night during their honeymoon in the late ’30s. Making matters worse, the honeymooners discovered that the bird had pecked holes in their cabin’s roof. There was just no escaping this thing. The producer wanted to shoot it, but his wife suggested making a cartoon about the bird. The rest is history.