Woodpecker frustrated her

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 11, 2014

When a woodpecker winged above me in my front yard one afternoon, I thought about someone who had a frustrating experience with one. It began around five on a June morning. She worked a late shift and had only been in bed a few hours. This particular morning, she was into what she called her “best sleep” when she heard something she described as sounding “like a “cement breaker” right at the window next to her bed.

She jumped up and looked outside, but saw nothing. She slipped on her robe and slippers and went outside where she walked around her mobile home trying to spot the source of all that noise. She found nothing, so she went back inside and got back in bed. Just about the time she settled herself and got comfortable, she heard that tapping, drilling noise again. She went outside and searched again. She saw nothing.

Weeks of frustration followed. Every morning, around the same time, 5 a.m., the noise began, robbing her of valuable sleep. She was determined to solve her mystery. She stationed herself on her front porch at 4:30 one morning. She waited. Right on time at 5 a.m., she saw a redheaded woodpecker fly into the gutter above her bedroom window. It began tapping away.

Ah, ha. She had determined what the noisemaker was. Now she had to find a way to run it off. She took time to do a little woodpecker research. She found that a woodpecker eats insects, and she figured her gutter was clogged with leaves and pine straw, the perfect spot for insects. She cleaned the gutter as free of litter as she could reach. It did not help. At five every morning, the woodpecker continued its tapping. She was tired and desperate. She baited three mousetraps and dropped them in the gutter. The wily bird just skittered around them. It kept drilling.

She bought a three-pronged fishhook, tied a line to it, dropped it in the gutter, and tied the line to her bedpost. When she heard the woodpecker back at work the next morning, she jerked the hook. The bird flew away, but came straight back.

She was not ready to stop. She bought a slingshot and gathered a bucket of pebbles. Just before five every morning on her days off, she sat on her porch with the slingshot poised, watching for her torturer. She shot pebble after pebble at it, but never had a hit.

She said she did not want a neighbor child with a BB gun to kill it; she just wanted it to go away and leave her in peace. Nothing worked, so she endured. Then, in September, the woodpecker just stopped coming.

By the next summer, she had sold her mobile home and moved into an apartment. She hoped she would not have to worry about gutters attracting a woodpecker anymore. It must have felt heavenly to fall back into a sleep pattern without interruption.