Sometimes in the beginning of a war, only the protagonist knows that the war has started. In the saga of Andy vs the Woodpeckers, this was the case.
The evil Woodpecker staged a sneak attack one morning with a small series of annoying, but not overly damaging, pings on the side of the house. It wasn’t constant, it wasn’t overly obnoxious; it was just a few taps on the Northeast corner of my house. All I needed to do was tap back at the wall and he would flee. It seemed innocent enough.
Round 1 Winner: Draw
Little did I know that this was the beginning of an invasion, and the WP’s were staking their claim. After about a week, it became clear that the enemy had entrenched itself. The tapping became constant. And it was more than a single woodpecker. It was a whole platoon. They were taking shifts. My tapping back was no longer a deterrent. They had gathered enough intelligence to know nothing was coming through that wall.
Round 2 Winner: Woodpeckers
Thus I had to regroup. I said to myself, “This will be easy. Surely, the internet has dealt with woodpeckers before. I will ask my friend Google for advice.” And Google did not fail me. There were lots of easy tips for deterring woodpeckers. I could attach tin foil to my wall. I could put a fake owl on my gutter. The list of ways to deter a woodpecker was nearly endless. And so, I walked to the northeast corner of my house, unfurled my 12 foot ladder, scaled as high as felt reasonably safe and realized I was still a good 15 feet away from where the deviants were pecking. I looked to my right and saw the nearest window that could be opened was about 50 feet away. Barring the unlikely event that I would learn to fly, there was going to be no easy way to attach tin foil to my wall 25 feet above the ground and 50 feet from a window.
Round 3 Winner: Woodpeckers
“Woodpeckers are probably easily scared,” I naively said to myself. “All I need to do is frighten the woodpecker. When he pecks on the wall, I will hurl a penny with my left hand from 50 feet away. I will scare him off and he’ll know not to mess with me.” And so, when one of my winged attackers attached himself to my abode, I took a penny and chucked it at him from 50 feet away.
Needless to say, I did not hit him.
I did make some noise with my toss and he flew away. First it took him about 20 minutes to come back, so I threw another penny and he flew away again. This time it took him 10 minutes to return. I threw another penny and 5 minutes later he was back. We danced to this song a few more times until he realized he only needed to fly away for 15 seconds or so to get me to leave the window.
About a hundred yards way, I could see a collection of woodpeckers congregating in a tree. I think one may have been taking tickets. I’m pretty sure they were all laughing at me.
Round 4 Winner: Woodpeckers
“I’m a reasonably intelligent human. I’ve seen McGyver. There is a way to get this tin foil on the wall,” I said to the amusement of the fates. On a piece of paper, I had drawn the perfect solution.
- I would attach a nail just under my window and tie a 75 yard string to it.
- Then I’d drop the ball of string to the ground, walk it over to a tree near the edge of the house and throw the string over the tree branch.
- I would then bring the ball of string back towards the window, and hurl it 20 feet into the air, through the open window.
- I could then tie the 2nd end of the string tight and create a “laundry line” which would pass directly by where the woodpeckers were doing their damage.
- I would then use clips and attach a nice long strip of tin foil, and attach a long string to the tin foil that would reach the ground.
- I could then pull the tin foil along the string until I reached the place I wanted to leave it. Easy.
I attached the nail, dropped the string to the ground and began bringing the string across. That’s when I noticed the other trees on the side of my house and the branches that were making it difficult (read: impossible) to get the string through. After a few minutes, I managed to get the string to the target tree, got it over the branch and headed back. Now the branches really grabbed hold of the string. I pulled my way through and prepared to launch the ball through the 3rd floor window.
My first attempt was close, but not successful. My 2nd attempt less so, to the point that the ball of string came back to earth through the tree branches. Attempts 3 thru 10 were similar in nature. Finally – SUCCESS! The ball of string made it through my window. I excitedly bound up stairs and got ready to revel in my win. I grabbed the string and started to coil it in so that I could have my taut laundry line in which to slide my tin foil across.
First there was a slight tug as the string caught a tree branch. I pulled it through. Then there were more tugs, as the tree opened all its fingers and grasped on to any bit of string it could find. The string was not coming up any further. I would not have a taut laundry line, all I would have was a tree full of string.
Round 5 winner: Woodpeckers
That was the end of one day of suffering and I decided to sleep on it and look for more solutions in the morning. So Monday, I headed over to Fred Meyer and asked the nice lady in the Garden Center if they had a Woodpecker Removal kit. When she said, “No, but I think we have some things for rodents or bugs,” my confidence waned. I was going to have to create a solution. 1st stop – some sort of garden sprayer so that I could poison the whole area where these evil creatures were burrowing. 2nd stop – the toy section and the purchase of a high powered Nerf gun.
I tried the poison first, spraying the side of my house high enough that no insect will ever return. This did not phase the woodpecker in the slightest. He was asking – no begging – to be shot with the Nerf gun.
This thing can shoot 75 feet, so my target would be well within the range from my window next time he came over. It was almost too easy.
It wasn’t long before I heard his return. He sat himself on the wall and started banging. I leaned myself out the window took aim. If he saw me, he didn’t show it. This was one cool cat. I lined up the shot, calculating for wind, distance and the unknown variable – how much velocity does a Nerf bullet actually bring to the equation.
I had him in my sights. He was all lined up. For a brief moment, I felt bad about what I was about to do.
That moment passed. I pulled the trigger.
The missile sailed a good foot over his head, as I was surprised by how much speed the missile had. The surprised woodpecker noticed immediately how lucky he was to be alive and fled. Surely, almost being shot would keep him from coming back.
10 minutes later, he was back. Once again, I shot and missed, and he fled. He came back. I shot and missed, and he fled. He came back. I shot and missed, and he fled.
We did this another 10 times or so, me firing from different angles and spots around the perimeter. This plan may work eventually, but I did not have the patience to keep it up.
Round 6 Winner: Woodpeckers
Google couldn’t solve my problem, so I crowd-sourced an answer on Facebook. The obvious solution was raised for me – Helium Balloons!
Just my luck, it’s the day after Easter and QFC was stuck with a ton of Mylar “Happy Easter” Balloons that the florist said he’d sell me for $.99. And he threw in 30 feet of ribbon for fun (or because he just wanted me to leave.) I wasn’t sure how many balloons was the proper amount for Woodpecker removal, but 3 seemed like the right number.
I tied 12 feet of ribbon to the 2 feet already attached. With my ladder still perched against the wall, I climbed to the 12th foot and tied the balloon to its anchor. The balloon swayed back and forth, never going more than about 10 feet from the Woodpecker’s target, but always returning home.
3 hours later, the balloon is still up and the Woodpeckers have not returned. This isn’t a long term solution, but we can put this day in the books.
Round 7 Winner: Andy