In Frankfurt, 1981 is the year of the black woodpecker. But this designation is less an honor than a warning for this feathered carpenter with the tough skull and the red stripe on its head. There are only 15 to 20 pairs in the Frankfurt woods --far fewer, their defenders point out sarcastically, than the stuffed woodpeckers decorating hunters' dens.
In a way the shortage of woodpeckers is not new. Frankfurt archives from 1859 lament the rarity of this bird. But the numbers increased under improved conditions after World War I.
Now the situation is more serious. The beech trees that the black woodpecker favors almost exclusively for nesting are dwindling. An urgent program is under way to preserve the remaining century-old that the woodpeckers like best.
If the present 15 or 20 pairs and their offspring can be protected, a few other species will be helped along as well. The jackdaw, tawny owl, and stock dove all live in holes orig inally drilled by the black woodpecker.