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The True Identity of Woody Woodpecker

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Gentle listeners:
I'm on near the end of the second hour of National Public Radio's All Things Considered today, March 10, probably around 5:45pm ET. I'll be talking about the True Identity of Woody Woodpecker, with sincere thanks to ornithological superstars Alvaro Jaramillo and Kimball Garrett. If you miss it on air, you can read it, and listen to it after 7 PM ET, here.

This was probably the most difficult piece I've ever written or delivered--eight takes?? Over two hours in the studio for a three minute piece? Laughing like a maniacal cartoon character oh, twenty times? You'd never know to listen to it...I hope.

And now scroll down for our regularly scheduled natural history post. Thank yew.


I read your most humble NPR article and chuckled all the way through it. You've quite a sense of humor, young lady! I think many of us would have made the same i.d., as a matter of fact, not having seen Woody in some years, I kind of though he was a Red-headed Woodpecker. But who am I? Just a novice birder, middle-aged student of nature, trying to absorb it all.

There is actually a Disney featurette about the birth of Woodie, which shows the original drawings and how they "evolved" into the woodpecker we know today. The old old woodie cartoons look a lot more like the Acorn, and the call is totally distinct. I once played it for non-birders in AK, and they recognized Woodie right away.

Okay...not Disney. Universal.

That was a lovely, funny piece, and I especially enjoyed your woodpecker laugh. My mom used to do Woody's laugh for us ... and you're almost as good as she was!

Hi Julie!

I was in the car this afternoon, waiting for my son to finish his After School Club, when I heard your lovely voice. How exciting to 'recognize' you on the radio. You did an excellent job on the audio. I loved your laugh at the end. Well done!


I heard the piece on NPR today and then happened onto your blog from a link on Wings N Things. I can understand why one would think Woody was a pileated woodpecker. We have pileated woodpeckers here in Western Virginia and they are awesome.

I commend you on a really excellent Woodie laugh. Twenty times? Well worth it, in my opinion.

Of course from this day forward you will be known as the lady with the Perfect Woodie Laugh and expected to perform on demand, so I think it would be good to keep practicing.

Yup--I heard you just as my husband was getting home from work--so I shushed him, so I could hear you. (That went over big!)
Anyway, I figure if you had another glass of red wine, the NPR piece would have gone a little smoother.
It was interesting, nevertheless.

Priceless, girl.
20 takes? I buy that. Most of your commentaries are done with a smooth, even "radio" voice, but this one with all the whispering "I don't really care about dowitcher's feather markings" and so on made it a tougher job, I bet.


Yep. Priceless. My smirky grin throughout turned into a belly laugh at the end. I needed to hear that goofy Woody tonight :o) I'm so glad you hung in there with all those takes.

As a radio and voiceover professional, I can tell you that sometimes you nail it on the first take, and sometimes -- as you did -- on the eighth. Ain't nothin' wrong with riffin'. It's the Julie laugh after the Woody laugh that ties it up in a bow. You're a regular June Foray!

Did I mention that sometimes, it's the 27th? So you were just getting started when you came up with pure radio gold. Not everybody can do that. But you did.

You would never know it was 2-hour's work for the three minute piece. It sounds perfectly relaxed with just the right tone. I loved it. I'm thinking you will be drafted to do the Woody Woodpecker call on many more occasions. Better keep in practice.

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