Enemy Mine

We have woodpeckers. Acorn woodpeckers, I think they are, specifically. Each morning as the sun comes up, we are jolted awake by their rapid pounding on the house. Often, they go at it in twos and threes, making a heckuva racket. We get up out of bed, shoo them away, and go on about our day. As the day proceeds, our activities are punctuated by frequent hollering sessions at the boogers as they return again and again and again.

The hammering noise is bad enough. What distresses me even more is the damage that they do to the house siding and fascia boards. They drill holes everywhere, poke acorns into the holes, even jamming acorns under the edges of the roofing material, to the point of lifting it away from its underlayment.

Our house is surrounded by lovely oak and pine forests. I wondered what was so compelling about our house (and Ann’s next door, which over the decades is being slowly turned into a swiss cheese of ‘pecker holes) to attract them away from the trees all around. A few minutes of online investigation informed me that the little blighters have more than one motivation for banging on things with their heads.

One reason they drill, I learned, is to hollow out spaces to make their nests. Another reason is going after insects in the wood. I don’t think I’ve seen the kind of damage I would guess to indicate either of those behaviors, however, based on the examples I found. A third reason may be at work in our case.

Male woodpeckers are attracted to resonant surfaces so they can make as much noise as possible, I read. The louder the better, as they engage in “drumming” behavior to signal for mates and maintain their territory. Our house, with its hollow walls and various bangy metal bits, far more resonant than any tree, is basically one big woodpecker percussion instrument.


My irritation with them has gotten pretty deeply under my skin, as evidenced by my remarks in a recent email to my mom:

My Irri-tape streamers did not deter the wood-effing-peckers this morning, although it did seem to work all day yesterday. The key variable might be that there was a nice breeze all afternoon, so the streamers were really noisy and full of motion. The mornings tend to be still, with no breeze to move them. Maybe the little blighters are afraid of them when they’re moving around, but don’t notice them if they’re hanging still.

Poop. It’s a good thing I’m unarmed, as I have a fully developed enemy image about them. I have lost appreciation for their beauty, and even just their calls put my nerves on edge. I need some woodpecker NVC!

I’m hoping we’ll eventually hit on a solution that will effectively discourage them from tearing the house up without hurting them. Actually, that’s not true. What I really want is for them all to DIE NOW.

Sigh. I’ll keep working on that. Maybe a cookie will help.

My mom (tongue only half in cheek, I believe) replied to my email plea for ‘pecker NVC with:

Do you need to do some more grief work on them? Are you deflated by the relentless noises of the little peckers? Do you wonder at and are are feeling irritated with yourself with your idea of their motivation? Are you proud of your bravery in meeting this challenge but wavering temporarily in your resolve and wishing you didn’t have to deal with this any more? Are you embarrassed that you began to wonder who along the road might have a gun to borrow?

Yes, probably, but I’m too mad to be in touch with grief at the moment. Yes, le sigh. Yes, I sometimes think they are doing it just to piss me off. Yes, definitely. And, finally, yes, dammit!

Dear neighbors, if I call asking to borrow a gun, please just say no.

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