Knock-knock-knockin’… October 15, 2010Posted by ourfriendben in critters, homesteading, wit and wisdom.
Tags: downy woodpecker, woodpeckers
There’s nothing like working at the computer and suddenly hearing someone pounding, not on your front door, not on your deck door, but on the outside wall of your bedroom. Rushing into the room, our friend Ben observed Linus, our big and beautiful but clueless cat, plastered against the window behind the bed, which is well above head height from the outside. Knowing Linus, who hides at the approach of any person other than yours truly and Silence Dogood, our friend Ben felt that familiar sinking feeling that comes when you know your beloved home is under attack.
Armed with a stout broom handle, I raced out the deck door and around the side of the house. Sure enough, there was a downy woodpecker, merrily hammering away on our clapboard wall. By the time I could identify the sound and get out there, it had already drilled three holes and was working on a fourth.
This had happened a couple of years ago, and after fruitlessly attempting to chase the determined woodpecker off, our friend Ben was finally able to deter it by pounding on the inside bedroom wall exactly opposite to where it was hammering on the outside wall. I suppose it figured that it really wasn’t worth trying to drill in to whatever was waiting inside there! Then I painted over the damaged wood, and that was that.
Until now. This time, our friend Ben attempted the “speak softly and carry a big stick” approach. Brandishing the broom handle, I informed the startled woodpecker that this was my house, not its all-you-can-eat buffet. I pointed out that there were lots and lots of lovely trees all over the property, and it was welcome to drill on any of them. I added that Silence and I kept the feeders filled with black oil sunflower seeds, its favorites, and even set out suet blocks for it and all its friends each winter. Then I suggested that it refrain from demolishing our home, since if we had to pay for expensive repairs, we could no longer afford to feed it.
At which point, the woodpecker, who’d removed to a nearby branch upon our friend Ben’s appearance and observed this lecture with considerable interest, flew away. I wish I could say that it left because it was convinced by the reasonableness of my arguments that house demolition wasn’t in its best interests, but I suspect that its reasoning was more along these lines: “Geez, isn’t that human ever going to shut up?!! I’m hungry, and I can’t sit around here waiting all day for lunch. Time to opt for Plan B.”
Unfortunately, Plan B turned out to be the second-storey wall of our studio, well out of our friend Ben’s reach, as I discovered upon taking our black German shepherd, Shiloh, outside a few minutes later. This time, the woodpecker continued its investigations undisturbed, doubtless saying “Nyah, nyah, you can’t get me!” between beakfuls of board.
Our friends were uniformly unsympathetic—to the woodpecker, that is—when our friend Ben related these events to them later. Comments ranged from “Stupid woodpeckers! They’re so destructive” to “Why don’t you just shoot it?” But we love our woodpeckers here at Hawk’s Haven. Seeing them (usually) brightens our day. So no, we won’t shoot them. We won’t even stop feeding them. But we have a call in to our handyman, who is unafraid of heights (in marked contrast to yours truly) and will cheerfully climb the ladder to the top of the studio, where he blocked off a squirrel hole only last year. Our friend Ben is eager to see how he plans to thwart the little woodpecker’s dinner plans.