Although woodpecker problems can be serious, it’s not very often that they can be considered dangers; in fact they’ve probably never been considered dangerous. At least in my 17 years as a wildlife technician, I’ve never been injured in any way because of a woodpecker – or at least I hadn’t been until last week. You would think after all these years I would have seen, done, and experienced it all, I know I thought I had, but I was dead wrong. When I got a call from a customer with a woodpecker problem, I never would have pictured it going south in any way.
It was honestly a pretty routine job; the owner came to stay in the home, went to sleep, and he woke up to a horrible pounding outside his bedroom window. Later that day I received a call from him and a full report on the woodpecker problem: approximately 4 holes that he could see, and only one bird. I loaded my truck with sight, sound, and taste deterrents, strapped on a couple of ladders, and made a lunch stop before I headed to the job – just like any normal day. When I got there I set up my ladder and started to check all the open holes for any birds inside and to see what I would have to do to solve the problem. There were no birds that I could see or hear and all I needed was a vent, some screen, and a few deterrents to set up.
I should tell you that there was one woodpecker hole that was covered by a stainless steel square that had been installed years before when they experienced previous woodpecker problems, and right next to that hole was another recent hole that I was planning to cover and work with. When I got up the ladder I started like I would have any other time, I stood below the hole and knocked on the wall to be sure nothing was inside before I covered it up. When nothing flew out I got to work; it was all routine, I was going through the motions like I had at hundreds – maybe even thousands of woodpecker jobs before this. What I wasn’t expecting was for a woodpecker to fly out from behind the steel that covered the hole from years ago. It got right into my face and startled me so badly that I fell backwards off of my ladder. Luckily, I was only about 12 feet off the ground so I wasn’t seriously injured, but I definitely had the wind knocked out of me and my ego cut down a few notches. Over my 17 years trapping there have been quite a few animals that have sent me tumbling, but a woodpecker was a first; I guess you just never know what to expect in this business.