Just as the Swallows have been returning on March 19 to the Mission at San Juan Capistrano in California, so too is the red-necked southern Pecker returning to Washington, D.C. this year in record numbers.
In the past, the Peckers' numbers declined in Washington due to a number of issues such as less fertile feeding ground, inability to secure a strong leader that would take them through the rough patches, and a phenomenon in the flock known as "fluffing one's own feathers while ignoring others in the flock" which means, there were a few big birds who didn't have the baby birds' interests in mind which almost decimated the flock. In addition, their incessant chirping had a detrimental effect on the residents of Washington and measures were taken to dive them out of the Capital.
However, several offshoots of the red-necked southern Pecker flock have returned to Washington, this time being welcomed by other southern species. While they seem to have emerged as leaders among all species, they still have not secured the top spot as speaker for all the Peckers-the orange-beaked Blue Jay from Michigan has taken on that role--they are singing a tune most of the other species can relate to.
The red-breasted Mitchie for instance, which normally makes its home in Kentucky, has found that the DC area is perfectly suited for his breed, due mainly to the fact that there are many wealthy inhabitants in Washington eager to throw a little scratch his way before entering the Capitol Building almost daily, making it easier for him to sit pretty in the tree. Occasionally, you'll hear him on the wind singing all the way to the bank rafters.
Even the Hawks, notorious for trying to start wars between breeds, seem to welcome the Peckers and Mitchies to Washington. The red-neck southern Peckers keep the Hawks at bay by allowing them their own large nesting grounds to roost in just outside the perimeter of the main feeding ground of the Peckers.
Meanwhile, the Mourning Doves, who, until recently, were the controlling species at the Capitol Building have been forced to relinquish most of their control, and are fearful as they are forced to move outdoors to a less hospitable climate. Their numbers remain strong, but it is unknown how much longer they can keep up the good fight knowing that in two years they may face the prospect of a major cull in order to protect the group as a whole.
Overall, the bird population in Washington remains relatively healthy and strong; however, with ever- increasing pressure on lawmakers to relax gun laws, the future of each flock may hang in the balance.