Tag Archives: woodpecker problems

Down with a Bang

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.

Woodpecker Problems

Who says woodpeckers are problems?  As a squirrel, I like to think of myself as an opportunist, and following the birds sure makes my life easier.  Look, I’m as happy as any other creature, living in the wild.  I’ve got my trees, my fruits and nuts, plenty of twigs and nesting materials.  I’ve got it good, right?  But, when I follow the birds, life gets even better!

Human nests are the absolute best.  They put out food for the birds and I get to feast to my heart’s content, after figuring out how to get at it, of course.  Oh, and the eggs!  Humans are so funny, cooing over any bird nest they find, feeding the mommy bird with seed and hoping to catch a glimpse of a baby bird hatching.  I just don’t understand the fascination with watching baby birds at the edge of the nest, mouths gaping open begging for mommy’s attention.  Eggs are for eating, not watching.

Every now and then, though, I get to follow a woodpecker.  Those birds will sometimes find a human nest that makes the most wonderful sounds when it pounds on the side.  With its beak, it will chip and tap away until it makes these holes everywhere.  Often it’s just looking for food or a mate, so the holes aren’t that big.  Well, they’re big enough for the humans to get mad.  I suspect the humans get mad at other things the woodpeckers do.  They stain the human nest with their droppings and I don’t think humans like the tapping sound.  So, the humans grumpily walk around the outside of their nest, yelling and upset at the woodpeckers, but the woodpecker usually comes back unless the humans do something drastic.  They think they have a woodpecker problem, but I think the woodpecker is doing me a favor.

Every now and then the woodpecker will make a hole just large enough for me to get inside.  If it’s not large enough to begin with, sometimes I’ll just rip and tear at it to make it slightly larger.  And then, oh, paradise awaits me3!  Those woodpecker holes let me gain access to a huge, warm den filled with nesting materials.  There is plenty of wood and plastic for me to gnaw on to keep my teeth down, sometimes there are boxes with human things inside and I like to explore.  And, it is a safe place to have my babies.  They just curl up in the warmth and quiet.  I can run in and out of the woodpecker holes to forage for food and come back and take care of them.  When they grow up, they’ll possibly end up using the same space for their own nests.

So, no, I don’t think woodpeckers are a problem.  I think they provide all kinds of wonderful opportunities for me!