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DBH – Diameter at Breast Height: a designated height on a tree used by arborists and foresters for determining the girth of trees consistently. Consider it too, the height at which an incremental borer would typically be inserted to obtain a core sample for assessing the age and condition of a living tree. The task of taking a core sample, inserting and extracting the twenty-inch long auger and tray smoothly, requires practice, a steady hand, and a little luck. Task completed, the mark left on the bark is only a few millimeters wide, barely noticeable.

In contrast, consider the woodpecker and how they use their bills to assess the condition of the tree.  Seeking insects and sap they bore their holes taking the measure of the bounty below the bark.  On a quest for food, not data, the woodpecker is less precise and cautious in using his beak. Often bark is a-flyin’ and there’s nothing that could be described as steady about the pounding vibrations of the woodpecker’s head. The seemingly random size and location of holes are a true celebration of entropy, aiding the tree in morphing from one form to another: cellulose to humus; organized structure to disorganized detritus.

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