What's the carbon footprint of a great spotted woodpecker [Dendrocopos major]?
That might sound a silly question given that these fine birds are in wild populations [click here for vital stats]. They might even be thought to have a negative footprint given that they are embedded within the natural matrix of things and contribute to the "main" (much more than we humans probably do).
But what if they feed on peanuts in domestic gardens as a woodpecker family around here do? Actually, it's our garden and we have been visited several times a day over the summer by a male and female and their growing brood.
These peanuts are obviously not local. Nor are they organic. They maybe "sustainably grown" but it's not obviously the case. So there are bird food miles to take into account and any environmental damage associated with farming and harvesting. The packaging gives no details of any of this, but it does reassure me that the nuts contain no artificial colours or flavours.
There are positives in all this. There is the employment, livelihood and economic activity associated with growing the nuts. There is the human well-being associated with having birds in the garden and the biodiversity benefits of helping them out in tough times.
What all this adds up, footprint-wise, to I have no idea.