By Rick Kaempfer
For the past five years I’ve had an on again-off again battle with a neighborhood woodpecker. I’ll never forget the day I discovered who my nemesis was.
He (or she) sounded just like a jackhammer.
I lived in Chicago for many years, and the sound of a jackhammer in the morning wasn’t even that unusual to me. But this jackhammer was slightly different. This one was hammering directly into my upstairs bathroom window…no more than fifteen feet away from my bed. And it was 6:00 in the morning.
When I opened the window to see what it was, the hammering stopped. I looked around the neighborhood to see if anyone was doing home improvements at this ridiculous hour, and was greeted with total blissful suburban silence.
Maybe I was imagining things. I went back to bed. I had just fallen back asleep when the hammering started again.
”What the hell is that?” Bridget asked.
This time I didn’t just look out the window. This time I went down the stairs and onto my deck to see what was going on outside the bathroom window. Sitting in the gutter just above my dormer eave was a cute bird with a jackhammer beak. He didn’t fly away at first. We just stared at each other.
“It’s 6 in the morning,” I said to him.
He wasn’t swayed by my logic. It wasn’t until I screamed like a rodeo cowboy that he flew away from the eave, landing about fifteen feet away in a nearby bush. That wasn’t good enough for me. I charged at him, and this time he flew away onto someone else’s property.
“And stay out,” I said to myself.
I was feeling pretty good about successfully protecting my home until the next morning at 6:00. The jackhammer was back. I know the early bird gets the worm, but maybe someone should tell these birds that the early bird also gets a broomstick up his keester.
Now that I knew exactly where he was, I opened the window, and swung up toward the gutter with my broomstick, hoping to scare him away. He flew away immediately.
“That’s right, Woody,” I taunted.
Woodpeckers are sort of cute, but let’s face it– the term “birdbrain” wasn’t invented out of whole cloth. He was no match for me. I was giving him the Teddy Roosevelt treatment—-walking softly and carrying a big stick.
Of course, the next morning he was back again at 6:00.
Each successive morning I got madder and madder. I’m a pacifist at heart, and I do respect nature, but this was causing me to have murderous thoughts. I started dreaming about grabbing him by the neck and snapping that hammering beak right off his head.
I was gritting my teeth as I choked him in my sleep…
(choke)…you…(choke)…smelly….(choke)… pecker!” (SNAP!)
When the jackhammer woke me up again the next morning, I sprinted across the hall, grabbed my broom, opened the window—-and this time I was swinging to maim or injure. Sensing my rage, the coward flew away. I actually screamed at him as he flew away…using a word that I shouldn’t have.
“(Insert Expletive Here)!” I screamed.
I wanted blood. I really did. I wanted him dead. It turns out that it’s a good thing I didn’t kill him, though. When I looked up woodpeckers on the internet later that morning, I discovered that it was a crime to kill them. It’s against the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
I had to go to Plan B. According to several websites, woodpeckers can be scared off by loud noises. This wasn’t really an option as far as I was concerned. Using loud noises to get rid of loud noises seemed to be defeating the whole purpose.
Another website said woodpeckers are repelled by bad smells, and they sold a stinky spray. I didn’t order it that first year because he suddenly decided to go away.
I didn’t order it the second year because he was still too afraid to come back.
But now that he’s back again and terrorizing my eaves (although thankfully this time not at 6am), I’m going to break down and get it.
I’ll let you know if it works.