The Tale of Reddy Woodpecker
Category: Children
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What is the cause for all the squawking and chatter in Farmer Green's yard? The Tale of Reddy Woodpecker is part of Arthur Scott Bailey's more than forty children's stories. Read what happens when the handsome Reddy Woodpecker comes to the yard for the first time in this children's tale perfect for bedtime.

The Tale of Reddy Woodpecker

Arthur Scott Bailey

The Tale of Reddy Woodpecker

Mrs. Robin's News

If you had been in Farmer Green’s door-yard on a certain day in May you would have heard an unusual twittering and chirping and squawking.

Now, there was a reason for all this chatter. Jolly Robin’s wife had seen a handsome stranger in the orchard. And she had hurried away to spread the news among her friends.

“He’s a dashing person, very elegantly dressed,” Mrs. Robin told everybody.

That remark did not seem to please the good lady’s husband. For Jolly Robin turned up his nose — or his bill — slightly, and he said to his wife, “The question is: What are his manners like?”

Mrs. Robin admitted that the stranger’s manners were not all that one might wish.

“He was somewhat noisy,” she explained. “And I fear he may be quarrelsome. But his clothes certainly were beautiful.”

Jasper Jay, who was something of a dandy, wanted to know exactly what the stranger wore. He said he doubted that the newcomer was as fashionable as Mrs. Robin supposed.

“I can’t tell you much about his suit,” Mrs. Robin went on, “except that it was new and stylish. What I noticed specially was his cap. It was a big one and it was a brilliant red.”

Jasper Jay sniffed when he heard that.

“They’re not wearing red caps this season,” he declared. He flew off then, to find his cousin Mr. Crow and tell him the news. For he hoped that Mr. Crow would give the stranger a disagreeable greeting. Jasper Jay did not like other birds to be more gayly dressed than he.

While all the feathered folk in the neighborhood were wondering who the stranger could be old Mr. Crow came winging over from the edge of the woods.

“Where is he?” he squalled. “Let me have one look at this new arrival! I think I know who he is.”

A little later Mr. Crow had his look, over in the orchard. Then he came back and alighted in the tall grass behind the farmhouse.

“He’s a Red-headed Woodpecker,” Mr. Crow announced with a wise tilt of his own head. “There hasn’t been one of his kind in Pleasant Valley for years and years…. It’s a pity,” he added, “that this one has stopped here.”

The old gentleman’s words threw little Mrs. Chippy into a flutter.

“Is he a dangerous person?” she quavered.

“I believe so,” said Mr. Crow darkly.

“Does he eat eggs?” Mrs. Chippy faltered. “And nestlings?”

For a moment or two old Mr. Crow couldn’t make up his mind whether he ought to get angry or not. Eating eggs and young birds was a subject he liked to avoid. He was aware that his neighbors knew he was a rascal. But he was a quick-witted old fellow. Suddenly he saw how the presence of this stranger might help him.

“Yes!” he told Mrs. Chippy. “This Woodpecker family all eat eggs and nestlings. And if you people miss any of your treasures, later, you’ll know who took them.”

At that little Mr. Chippy nodded his chestnut-crowned head.

“If it isn’t you,” he remarked to Mr. Crow, “then it will be the stranger.”

“Not at all! Not at all!” the old gentleman squawked. “You’ll be safe in thinking the newcomer guilty.” Then he turned his back on Mr. Chippy, as if that small, shrinking chap weren’t worth noticing. And favoring Mrs. Chippy with what he thought was a pleasant smile, Mr. Crow said to her, “You mustn’t let this Red-head know where your nest is. No doubt you have eggs in it already.”

“Yes, I have!” she twittered proudly.

“I certainly hope Red-head won’t steal them,” said Mr. Crow. “It would be a shame if you lost your beautiful eggs…. Where is your nest, Mrs. Chippy?”

“Don’t tell him!” peeped Mr. Chippy to his wife. “He wants to eat our eggs himself.”

As for Mr. Crow, he gave a hoarse cry of rage, before he flapped himself away.

Getting Acquainted

“I don’t believe — ” said Mrs. Jolly Robin after old Mr. Crow had flown off in a rage — “I don’t believe this Mr. Woodpecker can be such a bad person as Mr. Crow thinks. He certainly wears very stylish clothes and a very handsome red cap.”

“Clothes — ” said little Mr. Chippy severely — “clothes don’t tell whether their wearer has a taste for eggs. Now, I wear a red cap. To be sure, it isn’t as bright, perhaps, nor as big, as Mr. Woodpecker’s. But it’s a red cap, all the same. And everybody knows that I don’t eat eggs. Everybody knows I’m no nest robber.”

“You don’t look like one!” cried a strange voice which made everybody jump. It was the newcomer, Mr. Woodpecker, himself! Unnoticed he had flown up. And now he perched on a limb nearby. “You don’t look any more like a nest robber than I do,” he told Mr. Chippy.

The whole company stared at him; and then stared at little Mr. Chippy. There was a vast difference between them. Mr. Chippy was a tiny, meek person, while Mr. Woodpecker was as bold as brass. Mr. Chippy was modestly dressed; and his cap, though it was reddish, was of a dull hue. But the newcomer wore a flashy suit of dark steel blue and white; and his cap was both very big and very red. Mr. Chippy was a shy body who said little; and when he did speak it was usually only to utter a faint chip, chip, chip, chip. But Mr. Woodpecker was very talkative. When he spoke you didn’t have to strain your ears to hear what he said.

Mr. Woodpecker gave a quick glance all about and cried, “How-dy do!”

“Good morning, Mr. Woodpecker!” the birds greeted him.

“Don’t call me ‘Mister!’” he said. “My name is Reddy — Reddy Woodpecker.” Then he turned to little, shrinking Mr. Chippy and his wife. “I can see that you’re worried about your eggs,” he remarked. “I suppose your nest is hidden not far away.”

Mr. and Mrs. Chippy looked most uncomfortable. They didn’t quite dare speak to such a grand person as Reddy.

“Where’s your nest?” Reddy asked them bluntly.

“Chip, chip, chip, chip!” said Mr. Chippy. “Chip, chip, chip, chip!” said his wife.

“What sort of answer is that to a civil question?” Reddy Woodpecker blustered. “Here I’ve just made your acquaintance. And I’ve asked you to call me by my first name. And you won’t even tell me where you live!”

Mr. and Mrs. Chippy didn’t know what to say. It was lucky for them that Mr. Catbird came to their rescue.

“Don’t bully these good people!” Mr. Catbird cried, as he settled himself right in front of Reddy Woodpecker. “If you had heard what old Mr. Crow said about you, just before you arrived, you’d understand why Mr. and Mrs. Chippy don’t care to tell you where their nest is.”

Reddy glared at Mr. Catbird.

“Old Mr. Crow? Who’s he?” Reddy demanded. “I haven’t made his acquaintance. I’m sure he can’t know anything about me.”

“Ah! Perhaps not!” Mr. Catbird answered. “But he knows what sort of family yours is. He has met others like you.”

Reddy sniffed. “I never saw a Crow that wasn’t a rascally blackguard,” he snapped. “There never was a Crow that wasn’t a nest robber.”

“Chip, chip, chip, chip!” Mr. Chippy interrupted.

“What’s he saying?” Reddy Woodpecker asked Mr. Catbird.

“He says he agrees with you.”

“Then he has more sense than I thought,” Reddy observed. “And if Mr. Crow spoke ill of me I hope Mr. Chippy has enough sense not to believe him.”

“Chip, chip, chip, chip!”

“What’s he saying now?” Reddy Woodpecker demanded of Mr. Catbird.

“He says he agrees with Mr. Crow,” Mr. Catbird explained very pleasantly.

“Then he hasn’t any sense at all!” cried Reddy.

The whole company couldn’t help giggling when he said that. And Reddy Woodpecker promptly lost his temper.

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