This old pignut hickory (Carya Glabra) has seen better seasons, but the beak of a red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides Borealis) has extensively excavated the trunk, reaching through the growth rings of those seasons for the tunneling larvae of hickory bark beetles (Scolytus Quadrispinosus). Although I only captured two of the woodpecker’s cavities in this photograph, the length of the trunk of the dead pignut hickory was pocked with them on every side. I had hoped to capture the guilty woodpeckers in flagrante delicto, but I was only able to capture the evidence of their tenacious, voracious nature.
The black and white captures the deep shadows of the holes, and gives the bark an almost tessellated appearance, which is true to form. The gray lichen on the bark just to the right of the lower cavity is almost inconspicuous, but I would be remiss to not note the thin layer of crustose lichen, perhaps Pertusaria Epixantha, which gives a more complete vision of this small ecosystem with tree, and bird, and insect, and fungi within millimeters of each other–coexisting in harmony, even after the tree has lost its sap and vigor. Nothing in the woods of North Carolina goes to waste. Even the autumnal leaves that fall by the wayside eventually feed the very trees that shed them, not to mention the other fauna and flora that feast upon them. Thus, even in the hollowed, cored trunk of this long dead tree, I saw embodied a brief arc of the circle of life.
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