According to the provincial government, there are 12 species of woodpecker that appear at least occasionally in British Columbia, but only a few are common in the southern coastal areas outside the summer months. The one I've noticed most often is the pileated woodpecker, with its distinctive red swooshy head.
Right now, one of these guys is being a real goddamned pecker around our house.
UPDATE: I think I have unfairly maligned the pileated woodpecker. Although I still haven't spotted it directly, numerous reports from my readers and more careful listening to the infernal tapping tells me that our woodpecker is more likely to be a Northern flicker (I've updated the accompanying photo accordingly). In any case, a suggestion to burn some paper under our stove hood when we hear the tapping, so smoke sends the bird away, may be working. We'll see.
You see, it has decided that the metal chimney above our stove is an ideal target. I don't know why: if I were a woodpecker, I'd probably figure out fairly quickly that there aren't any tasty grubs living inside a kitchen vent. Then again, woodpecker skulls have evolved largely to withstand massive repeated impacts, not for smarts.
Now, imagine what it sounds like at, say 7:18 a.m. on Easter Monday, to have a woodpecker pounding away, Kalashnikov-like, on a highly-reverberant tube of metal that leads directly from the roof of your house into the amplifying stove hood in the middle of your kitchen, which is in the centre of the structure, right across the hall from the bedrooms. This has been going on intermittently for two or three weeks now at our place.
I stumbled out of bed and turned on the stove vent fan (which is very loud, being older than I am). No dice. So I wandered outside in bathrobe and bare feet and hucked a couple of small stones from our yard in the general direction of that part of the roof. I was surprised at my accuracy at such a bleary-eyed time of the morning.
There were some clattering noises, and I think I scared it off for now. It's likely pileated—the largest surviving woodpecker variety in North America, by the way—from the sound of its drumming, but I haven't actually seen it yet. I suppose if it persists in trying to find an insect colony in our kitchen chimney, it will eventually starve to death, but maybe it's clever enough to be working on some nearby trees too. I hope it avoids punching a bunch of holes in the aluminum, anyway, and that it gets the point (ha ha) eventually and moves on. Or I'll have to get better aim.
Labels: animals, annoyances, biology, vancouver