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Word of the day: yaffle

Uncle B saw one of these in the garden today. It is a European Green Woodpecker. Not his picture, though — the little peckerhead moved too fast.

I had a poke around the web, which informed me that the green woodpecker’s call is a liquid laughing yaffle.

Liquid laughing yaffle. Well, I never.

Only one document added ‘liquid’ to the mix, but they pretty much all say laughing yaffle. You might be forgiven for thinking ‘yaffle’ is a general term for a kind of sound, but no. It’s specific to the green woodpecker, which is also called a ‘yaffle’.

Pity. It seemed such a promising word.

You can make up your mind whether this sounds like a laughing yaffle to you. I’m torn.

Which brings us to Woody, who was not modelled after a European green woodpecker, but a pileated woodpecker, which also has a laughing call. The deep lore of Wikipedia tells me that the inspiration was an acorn woodpecker that pecked holes in Walter Lantz’s honeymoon cabin. He wanted to shoot it, but his wife suggested he make a cartoon about it instead. It became his most famous character.

Why don’t my life ass-aches ever turn into award-winning triumphs?

Aforementioned wife, Carol Stafford, became the fifth and final voice of Woody Woodpecker, though she asked not to be credited for some years. She thought kids wouldn’t like it if Woody was voiced by a girl. (I thought she was also the voice of Talky Tina, but I was wrong. That was June Foray, who also played Rocky the Squirrel).

And that’s it. Man, I hated Woody Woodpecker.


Comment from gromulin
Time: September 9, 2019, 10:36 pm

I still have a mint condition Woody Woodpecker 70’s lunchbox because I hated it and refused to take it to school. Could not stand that cartoon.

Comment from Ric
Time: September 9, 2019, 11:33 pm

What’s up with Brexit?

Comment from Mitchell
Time: September 10, 2019, 12:07 am

So…how do you feel about Chilly Willy? Cool or Not cool?

Comment from Subotai Bahadur
Time: September 10, 2019, 12:13 am


I’m pretty sure that even Brits don’t have any idea of what is happening with Brexit. From what I have heard, which is probably not complete, both Houses of Parliament have passed a bill requiring Boris to beg the EU for an extension past October 31, I understand the Queen has agreed to it. And that there are rumors/reports/wishful thinking about all sorts of scenarios that may or may not exist in this universe. We will know October 31, and maybe even not then.

You have to have a critical mass of people in a country that want to be free, in order to keep freedom. Both we and the Brits are testing the size of that critical mass. Interesting times on both sides of the Atlantic. It is a good thing to have access to weapons. 😉

Subotai Bahadur

Comment from Durnedyankee
Time: September 10, 2019, 1:04 am

JK Rowling wants you to know that Rocky was actually a transgender squirrel. She just never thought that needed mentioning in the stories she wrote.

But she decided, NOW you need to know.

And the forecast for Brexit is discussions until another vote can be held which will do away with the whole silly Brexit idea, and Europe (and England) can get on being ruled by unelected people living in Brussels while taking their orders from the old aristocracy, and Germany.

the good news though, is Bearcow isn’t going to get a peer. Maybe he doesn’t have a boat anyway!

Comment from BJM
Time: September 10, 2019, 1:26 am

The song sounds like a yaffle…the call not so much. We have pileated woodpeckers…they really look like dinosaurs.

They’ve been drilling our young willow trees. I hung blank CD’s on fishing line among the branches. The CDs spin and reflect images and bright shafts of light…scares the bejeezus out of birds. Works great for fruit trees too.

Comment from catnip
Time: September 10, 2019, 4:28 am

@ BJM, sorry to hear of your willow damage. The CD mobile worked well at our mountain cabin too, but we didn’t hear about their usefulness until we’d nailed up a handful of rounds cut from sheet metal to cover up the woodpeckers’ work on the cabin siding. Now we use a black silhouette of a large hawk hung from a rafter at the front edge of the porch. It seems to be just as effective because it’s nearly always in motion. It looks slightly tidier than the swag of CDs looped across the front of the house, and we’ve accepted the “rustic” look of the sheet metal hole-covers. We wage constant war against critters. Last evening we discovered a packrat in our garage after returning from a 2-day “vacation”. Our furry hitchhiker rode somewhere inside the undercarriage of the truck for 140 miles, 20 of them on rutted gravel road, poor thing. We trapped it using a bit of banana, some raisins and chopped walnut pieces, then drove it at midnight down to the greenbelt along the river, where it will probably lead a very lonely life. Packrats are exceptionally cute little foot-stampers, destructive as all get-out, but easier to deal with than roving cattle and most of the other wildlife people contend with in this area.

Comment from Durnedyankee
Time: September 10, 2019, 11:59 am

Are you telling me when I move to the country I’m going to have to deal with critters?

Drunk raccoons?

Comment from Anonymous
Time: September 10, 2019, 2:25 pm

Even as a small child in the 60s, back in the days when cartoons were exceptionally violent, I always thought Woody was a sadist. Not funny, just cruel.

Comment from BJM
Time: September 10, 2019, 10:26 pm

@catnip I troweled Tanglefoot on the trunks and branches. They hated sticky feets. The trees healed themselves once the birds let them be.

Tanglefoot works great to keep ants off fruit trees too, or you could go old school with a white lime wash.

@Durned…not only drunken raccoons but Robins too. Pyracantha bushes are loaded with overly ripe, fermenting berries in the autumn and winter and migrating birds gorge on them, especially Robins who seem to enjoy the buzz.

Comment from catnip
Time: September 11, 2019, 3:34 am

@BJM, thanks for the mention of Tanglefoot products. I’d forgotten them. Squirrels have almost completely torn the bark from a 4-ft. section of one main branch on our dogwood tree at home. Maybe the pruning and grafting compound would protect the bare spot. (It doesn’t quite girdle the branch.)

Comment from Can’t Hark My Cry
Time: September 11, 2019, 5:58 pm

I’m late to the party, but …
Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged defines the intransitive verb “yaffle” as synonymous with “yaff.” The entry for “yaff” is as follows:
“yaff intransitive verb \ˈyaf\
inflected form(s): -ed/-ing/-s
: bark, yelp, yap
Origin of YAFF

Sadly, the Oxford online English dictionary (which is NOT the OED) gives yaffle only as noun, and defines it as “another term for green woodpecker”–but there does seem to have been at least some non-recursive source for the name.

Comment from SundogUK
Time: September 20, 2019, 9:29 pm

Professor Yaffle was a character in Bagpuss, a UK children’s TV series in the seventies:


Weirdly, he was a woodpecker made of wood…

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