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The Erbe Woodpecker (エルベキツツキの生態, erube kitsutsuki no seitai) is a book found in Trails in the Sky FC in the inner garden of the Maple Leaf Inn in Elmo Village in Zeiss.

It is also available in the Trails in the Sky the 3rd in a bookshelf in the Hermit's Garden after interacting with it during Chapter 4: "The Dark Stigma".

[A Bird of Legend]

The Erbe Scenic Route is a road lined with beautiful groves of slender trees on each side of its cobbled path. A notable site frequently appearing in ancient royal court literature, it is thought by researchers that the scenery which knights once laid eyes on was far more spectacular than that which is seen today.

Sadly, those vivid colors appearing in days of yore have long since been lost. Those awe-inspiring hues of which are written in poem and song refer to the plumage of a single bird. Its name: the Erbe Woodpecker.

Presently, it is exceptionally rare to catch a glimpse of this brilliant azure bird. In fact, its extinction has even been suggested on more than a few occasions.

In an interesting light, traditional songs sung by knights of times past make frequent mention of these birds as being a common sight. It undoubtedly seems as though there used to exist an incomparably large population of these woodpeckers in contrast with their meager numbers in recent times. This brings us to the pivotal question of: What fate exactly befell these birds over the course of the last several hundred years?

[A Peculiar Mode of Life]

Although the Erbe Woodpecker is in fact a woodpecker, it does not peck holes in the trunks of trees. The reason being: it cannot.

In general, woodpeckers use their beaks to bore holes in the boles of trees for nesting, but for the Erbe Woodpecker, this is an impossible task. Consequently, they figured out another way to deal with this problem. Even if they do not bore the hole themselves, there are many other nesting holes for them to choose from.

That's right, they will usurp a nesting hole made by another species of woodpecker.

The Erbe Woodpecker, with a beak perfect for catching insects and its clever ploy of stealing a fellow's nesting hole, was believed to have the traits that would allow it to prosper indefinitely.

[Invasion by an Invasive Species]

A sudden change occurred when a new, larger species of woodpecker came to live in the forests inhabited by the Erbe Woodpecker. This larger species had managed to migrate by way of boat from its distant, native land.

As nautical technology developed and trade began to flourish, the coming and going of marine vessels became increasingly dynamic. However, those which traveled on these boats and ships were not always human.

Blending in with various freight and cargo, these creatures from other lands managed to come ashore one after another. With the introduction of this larger species of woodpecker, those smaller species which were once endemic to Liberl gradually left the Erbe Forest in search of new habitats. Life also became problematic for the Erbe Woodpecker as its nesting hole size differed greatly from the outsiders'. Yet, despite these drawbacks, it continued to stay in the forest.

With the other small species of its habitat being driven out, finding another woodpecker's nesting hole became increasingly difficult. If a nesting hole could not be found, the Erbe Woodpecker, of course, could not reproduce either. Thus, chances for reproduction among its kind gradually decreased, and a long era of decline set in among them.

[Cleverness and Their Eventual Downfall]

The Erbe Woodpecker, with its clever methodology of using the nesting holes of others, enjoyed a brief period of prosperity. However, having abandoned their ability to bore holes for themselves some millennia before left them unable to cope with the abrupt changes in their environment. On the other hand, those other species of woodpeckers, despite having been displaced by invasive species countless times, have continued to prosper today as they have in times past.

There are many things which we ourselves can learn from these tiny birds. So if you should happen to see one of these azure rarities flying amongst the trees of the grove-bordered avenue on the Erbe Scenic Route, please remember the struggle they have been forced to endure.

【まぼろしの鳥】

すらりと伸びた美しい木立の続くエルベ周遊道。古代の王朝文学にもたびたび登場する名所だが、かつて騎士たちが目にしたかの地の風景は、今よりもずっと華やかだったはずだと研究者は考えている。

今では失われてしまった彩り。それは詩歌に登場する1羽の鳥だ。名前は「エルベキツツキ」。現在、このあでやかな青色のキツツキを目にすることは極めて難しい。絶滅が疑われたことも1度や2度ではない。

しかし、騎士たちの歌の中では、この鳥は日常的なものとして頻繁に登場する。今とは比較にならないほどたくさんのエルベキツツキがいたことは間違いないようなのだ。ではたった数百年の内に、一体どんな運命がこの鳥を襲ったのだろうか。

【奇妙な生態】

実のところ、エルベキツツキは「キツツキ」であるにも関わらせず決して「木を(つつ)いたり」しない。「しない」というより「できない」のだ。

エルベキツツキの細いくちばしは柔軟で、樹皮の間にいる虫を捕らえるの最適な形をしている。一般にキツツキはくちばしで樹木に穴を穿(うが)って巣穴とするが、エルベキツツキには無理な話だ。

そこで彼らは別の方法を見出した。自分で掘らなくても周りに穴はたくさんある。そう、他のキツツキが作った巣穴を横取りしてしまえばよいのだ。

虫を捕まえるのに最適なくちばしと、頑丈な木のすみかを手に入れたエルベキツツキ。彼らの繁栄は永遠に続くかに思われた。

【移入種の侵入】

異変は唐突に訪れた。見たこともない大型のキツツキが林に住み着いたのだ。この大型種は、はるか遠い場所から船に乗ってやって来たのだった。航海技術が発展し、交易が盛んになるにつれ、船舶の往来も活発になっていった。だが、乗り込んでいたのは人間ばかりではない。積荷にまぎれて、他の土地の生き物たちも続々と上陸を果たしていたのだ。

大型種の登場により、リベール固有のキツツキたちは次々とエルベの林を離れ、新たな生息地へと分散していった。エルベキツツキたちにとっても、巣穴のサイズが違うよそ者は邪魔でしかなかった。しかし、それでも彼らは林の中にとどまり続けた。生息地が分散すると、他のキツツキの巣穴を見つけることが難しくなるからだ。巣穴を見つけられなければ繁殖することもできない。こうして次第にエルベキツツキの繁殖のチャンスは減っていき、彼らは長い斜陽の時代を歩み始めることとなる。

【賢さが仇に】
他人の巣穴を使うという巧みな手口で、一時は繁栄を謳歌したエルベキツツキ。しかし自らの力で生き抜くことを放棄した彼らは、急激な変化に対応することができなかった。一方で他のキツツキたちはその後も繰り返された移入種の侵入にも関わらず、今も昔と変わらぬ繁栄を誇っている。この小さな鳥たちの運命から、私たちが学ぶべきことは多い。並木道で青い鳥を見かけたなら、彼らの歩んできた長い道のりを、どうか思い起こして欲しい。