Characters: Benjy Bear, Squirrel, Caterpillar, Cuckoo, Scarlet Tanager, Sapsucker.
Benjy Bear Hooey. I’m so full, I can bearly climb this tree.
Squirrel Yeah, and I’d say you’re one silly bear, but I wouldn’t want to go out on a limb. So, whatcha doin’ up here, Benjy?
Bear Oh, I like to see what’s going on in the forest. Up here, I can see into the treetops where the beechnuts grow.
Squirrel That’s the canopy – can’t top that!
Bear Yeah, it’s the top story! And if I look down, I can see the flowers and ferns near the ground – down to the forest floor where the blueberries grow.
Squirrel Bottom floor – berry interesting.
Bear Berry tasty, you mean! And in between, I can see bushes, tree trunks, branches – the shrub layer and the understory. There’s something good to eat in every layer of the forest.
Squirrel And now that spring has come, every layer, from ground to canopy, is noisy with birds.
Bear That’s for sure. Hard to get any sleep! I wonder why so many birds come to this forest in spring. And I wonder what the story is over there on that birch tree – seems to be quite a commotion!
Squirrel Birch tree, eh? Mmm, this could be sweet! Since I’m the Branch Manager, I’ll have to go and see. Bye. (exits)
Caterpillar Pssst. Is the coast clear?
Bear Huh? Who said that?
Caterpillar It’s me, over here, on this leaf.
Bear Hello! Aren’t you a tent caterpillar? Why aren’t you in your tent?
Caterpillar I have to leave the tent to feed, but it’s dangerous out here. There are lots of predators around. Makes me nervous.
Bear Well, the squirrel’s gone, and you don’t have to worry about me. Hairy caterpillars are not my cup of tea. So, what do you like to eat?
Caterpillar We just eat leaves. To us caterpillars, this forest is an arbor-eat-um.
Sometimes there are so many of us tent caterpillars, we eat all the leaves in the forest.
Bear Shouldn’t you leave some for the trees?
Caterpillar It’s not just us. There are millions of insects out here in the woods eating the tree leaves.
Bear That can’t be good for the trees!
Caterpillar Not good for the trees, no, but good for our bellies. But we have to be careful! Birds, beetles, spiders, hornets – everyone wants to eat us.
Bear That must keep you insects from over-running the forest and hurting the trees.
Caterpillar But I don’t want to get eaten! I want to grow up to be a moth. I want to have wings and fly!
Bear Well then, you’d better make treads – caterpillar treads, and leave! We’ve got company.
Caterpillar Uh oh! So long! (exits)
Cuckoo I thought I saw a caterpillar. I’m simply cuckoo about caterpillars. Get it?
Bear Ho, ho, I think so! Are you, by any chance, a cuckoo bird?
Cuckoo A black-billed cuckoo. And I’m on the hunt for hairy caterpillars. If there are any around here, their cuckoo-clocks are ticking, ’cause I’m gonna eat them!
Bear I guess time’s up for some caterpillars. You cuckoos aren’t here in winter, are you?
Cuckoo Oh no, we’d be cuckoo to stay here. We’d starve – not enough insects to eat.
Bear But why come all the way up here in the spring instead of staying where you were?
Cuckoo Why, where else would we find so many caterpillars at one time? All that high-energy food makes it a great place to raise a family. Even a cuckoo family like mine! Well, time’s a-wasting. Cuckoo! (exits)
Bear Goodbye, Cuckoo! (Scarlet Tanager enters) Wow, a black-winged red bird high up in the canopy! Must be a scarlet tanager – another migratory bird.
Scarlet Tanager Yah sure, that’s me. Yooost back from South America.
Bear What’s that you’re eating?
Scarlet Tanager Oh, crunchy beetles, squishy bugs, hairy caterpillars…
Bear You’re finding all those different insects up here in the forest?
Scarlet Tanager Yah sure, you betcha. It’s a smorgasbord of insects. With all this foood, we get a goood head-start raising our broood. (exits)
Bear Boy, I wouldn’t want to be an insect in this forest with all those birds on the hunt. (woodpecker enters) Why, here’s another bird! Hello! Now who are you?
Sapsucker I’m a yellow-bellied thap-thucker. I’ve been drinking tree thap. Maketh my tongue kinda thticky!
Bear I can tell! A yellow-bellied sapsucker – aren’t you some kind of a woodpecker?
Sapsucker Of course I’m a woodpecker. I’ve been away on migration. Can’t get much sap in winter when it’s frozen.
Bear Sap? I thought woodpeckers ate insects.
Sapsucker Sure! We eat insects, but we like sap too. It’s saa-weet!
Bear So that’s why you’re called a sapsucker – you drink sap from trees! Hey, you must have drilled all the holes in that birch tree over there. I see lots of insects buzzing around the trunk.
Sapsucker Sure! Insects are attracted to the sweet sap. Oh boy, sugar-coated bugs – yum! So long! (exits)
Bear So sapsuckers provide sap for other animals, like flies and …(squirrel reenters) maybe squirrels?
Squirrel Yup, and wasps, hornets, even hummingbirds – phew, I was lucky to get a lick!
Bear I guess lots of birds come to the forest in spring because there’s so much food for them. There’s sap from trees, nectar from flowers, and lots and lots of insects.
Squirrel You bet. And there are lots of places for birds to live and raise families in the many layers of the forest.
Bear Yeah, and all those birds help the forest too, because they eat the insects that damage the trees.
Squirrel And we help by planting seeds – like acorns and beechnuts.
Bear I guess every plant and animal in this forest has an important role to play.
Squirrel Yeah, I guess so, but right now, let’s just play a game. How about Hide and Seek? Anywhere from floor to canopy is fair, okay?
Bear Okay! That sounds like fun. You know me, I’m always game!