PAT NEAL: The woodpecker war

IT’S NESTING SEASON in this bird watcher’s paradise we call the Olympic Peninsula.

Many rare and colorful species of our feathered friends are raising their families in nests they have spent months if not years constructing.

The bald eagle builds a nest that can be big as a dump-truck load of sticks.

The common bushtit weaves a ball of moss no bigger than a softball.

The woodpecker drills holes in the side of a tree that are big enough to host their brood.

Recently it was revealed that modern man has been responsible for the extinction of a million species of animals and birds worldwide.

Unfortunately, the woodpecker is not one of them.

The reader(s) might consider this a harsh judgement. But few have tried living with woodpeckers.

This is my story, written in a desperate attempt to warn others of this invasion of rogue woodpeckers before these winged terrorists can threaten the peace and security of another American home.

It’s not that I hate all woodpeckers.

I am sure many woodpeckers are finely feathered, sensitive wild creatures that spend their lives innocently hammering holes in trees in the wilderness.

They are looking for food and providing nesting spaces to other varmints.

It’s when that same woodpecker moves in and starts excavating a hole in the side of your house that you begin to hate these birds with a passion.

It began early one morning, of course.

Woodpeckers get up with the chickens.

A steady rapping against a metal gutter echoed through the walls of the shack like a demonic tattoo from a bad dream.

This was a signal of the woodpecker to his mate(s): He had found another sucker to move in with.

There followed a moment of blessed silence.

Followed by a slower beating sound of an iron-hard chisel breaking through the siding of my humble abode to enlarge a hole big enough for the whole family.

Running outside in my bathrobe I caught a glimpse of the evil bird just as it burst through the outer layer of wood, spreading a shower of pink insulation upon the lawn.

This meant war.

Declaring war on the woodpeckers is not something that should be taken lightly.

Despite enduring a lifetime of beating their heads against solid objects, the woodpeckers display few signs of brain damage.

In fact, they are wary and devious birds that seem to enjoy torturing humans for fun.

The woodpeckers have time on their side.

As creatures of the forest they can spend their days doing pretty much whatever they please while humans are forced to abandon their homes in a vain attempt to make a living.

That’s when the woodpeckers strike.

Coming home one evening, I could not help but notice a dusting of pink insulation on the lawn.

It came from a hole in the wall the size of a softball just under the eaves of the house.

Quick as a bullet the woodpecker emerged from its lair and flew into the forest.

I formulated a strategy, organized my weapons and settled in for some woodpecker payback, big time.

People wondered why I didn’t just shoot the woodpeckers, which was stupid.

I’d blow a hole in the house. And it’s illegal to shoot woodpeckers … for some reason.

Instead, I waited until the woodpecker returned to its nest then snuck outside and waited below with a fish net.

The plan was to beat on the wall to scare the woodpeckers and bag them with a fish net when they flew out.

Then I would place them in a cooler and drive them to Eastern Washington.

To be continued …


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

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