PAT NEAL: The woodpecker war, continued

THEY SAY THERE’S no place like home, that home is where your heart is and every man’s home is his castle. All of which may be very true.

Unless you are living with woodpeckers. Then your home may be a castle but it is under siege from an enemy that has every intention of driving you out of your home and out of your mind thinking up ways to battle these pernicious invaders.

Make no mistake: Once the woodpeckers set their sights on your home, your life just took a turn for the worse.

Forget going to bed early. Woodpeckers work until dark. Forget sleeping in late. Woodpeckers start pounding at the break of day.

Between the hours of dawn and dark, the woodpeckers attack when you least expect it, leaving you with a house that has more holes in it than one of my fish stories.

In short, woodpeckers can ruin your life.

Take this column, for instance. It would have been an enlightening, amusing, culturally uplifting story that gave one hope instead of a depressing tale of a plague of woodpeckers and how they ruined my life.

In last week’s episode, I had discovered the woodpeckers had drilled a hole about the size of a grapefruit in the wall of my home and littered the lawn with shower of pink insulation in the process.

They replaced the insulation with bundles of sticks and moss with which they would construct a nest.

Over my dead body! I couldn’t shoot the woodpeckers. That is illegal and besides I would blow a hole in the wall. I couldn’t set fire to the woodpeckers as that would burn my own house down.

Instead, I had to match wits with the woodpecker and the woodpeckers won.

It was hardly a fair contest. I was outnumbered by the woodpeckers two to one. Then outmaneuvered at every turn by these conniving creatures.

It seemed foolproof enough. I had planned to wait until the woodpeckers flew into the nest in the wall and catch them with a long-handled fish net when they flew out, then drive these horrible birds to Eastern Washington for a well-deserved vacation.

One day after many hours in the blind I saw a woodpecker fly into the wall. I sprang into action. Sneaking up to a position just beneath the nest I pounded on the wall to scare the woodpecker hoping it would fly out into the waiting net. Just then the phone rang.

Now, I hate telephones almost as much as I hate woodpeckers but that’s a guide’s life.

When the phone rings you have to answer it or give up eating. During the confusion I dropped the phone.

When I bent over to pick it up there was a whooshing sound as the woodpecker exited the nest and disappeared into the underbrush.

It was a robo-call! I thought those were illegal.

The woodpecker had won round one. I retreated to reconnoiter the situation.

The woodpeckers were affecting my well-being. I couldn’t sleep without having nightmares of woodpeckers beating on the house, and when I awoke, there was a woodpecker drilling a new hole in the house.

Out on the lawn like freshly fallen snow, a new layer of pink insulation told me the woodpeckers shifted their attack from the north to the east wall.

I grabbed my fish net and waited until I was sure the woodpecker was inside its nest.

Opening the door, I was surprised by a pair of starlings that had taken over yesterday’s nest, the one the woodpeckers had abandoned.

That did it! I’m moving to Eastern Washington!


Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via patnealwild [email protected].

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