“What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.”

William Henry Davies (1871-1940) commented in his poem, “Leisure” (from “Songs of Joy and Others”, 1911), that things have come to a pretty pass when the stresses of everyday life prevent us from taking a few moments to just stop and look.

There are lots of  quotes beseaching us to be still and appreciate the small things that we might otherwise miss in our busy lives. I doubt anyone ever has (or ever will) cited “stop and watch the jackfruit”, but when you have an hour to kill in a city park in Sao Paulo, why not?

There is a grove of jackfruit trees in Ibirapuera Park, Sao Paulo and one of the large green fruits had been broken open, exposing the flesh. The casing of the jackfruit is very tough and it must have taken quite a bit of force to open it. Some Sayaca Tanagers were feeding there, but surely they would not have had the tools nor the strength to break through the outer layer. A warm afternoon, some shade and a grassy spot induced me to stop and wait to see what else might come along. Perhaps I might even get an answer to the question of who might be able to rip through a jackfruit skin.

In my head, I pictured a Lineated Woodpecker, or perhaps a Blonde-crested Woodpecker chipping away to pierce the husk. Woodpeckers would certainly have the tools to break through the skin, but would they have the inclination? Not being big fruit-eaters, what would be their reward? Instead a few Plain Parakeet dropped by to take some fruit. They were joined by a Greater Kiskadee which happened to be passing and picked off a few of the flies which had been drawn in by the sweet smell. The strong bills of the parakeets made them contenders as the bird to have opened the tough fruit. There are also parrots in the park which would make good suspects.

After just 20 minutes, I got the big pay off when a pair of Toco Toucans alighted in the tree and set about another jackfruit. It was already open, but the toucans were able to prise more of the case away to reveal fresh fruit. How much force can a toucan generate I wonder? The gripping end of their bill is a long way from the working muscle, probably requiring immense power to clasp anything. The toucans may not have been the ones to break open the fruit, but they were well worth waiting for nevertheless.

So take your time, maybe stop and smell the roses. There will always be a pay off, even if it is not the one you were expecting..

“A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.”

Written by Redgannet
Redgannet worked for more than 35 years as a flight attendant for an international airline. He came to birding late in his career but, considering the distractions, doesn't regret the missed opportunities. He was paid to visit six continents and took full advantage of the chance to bird the world. He adopted the nom de blog, Redgannet, to avoid remonstrations from his overbearing employer, but secretly hoped that the air of mystery would make him more attractive to women. Now grounded, he is looking forward to seeing the seasons turn from a fixed point.