Animals know when fruit is ripe. Have you ever waited patiently for a tree full of cherries to ripen to perfection only to walk out one day and find every last cherry on the tree gone? This has happened to me with cherries, grapes, and berries. I’ve learned to watch for the first sign of animal interest as the final sign that I need to begin the harvest, and fast. When I checked on our favorite apple tree this morning, I found about a half-dozen apples in the state you see in the above picture. My best guess is that the woodpeckers have found them. We have a number of pileated woodpeckers in our neighborhood. The damage looks like a long, thin pointy beak has been at work so I am blaming the woodpeckers.
I grabbed the kids and we headed out to pick the apples before the birds could claim any more. To be nice to the birds, I did leave any fruit that was already picked or damaged on the ground for them.
Now we have about 35 lbs of apples to eat, process, and store.