We have a recent, unwelcome guest at our house, whom Brett and I have nicknamed "Woody." (And don't let the fact that we named him fool you into thinking we enjoy having him around; he's really a bit of a pest and we wish he would just go away.) Early last week, the noise started. At the time I thought was a metallic grinding coming from the basement and it scared me to go down there because I wasn't sure what I would find (or how expensive it would be to fix). Once I got downstairs, I realized it wasn't mechanical at all, but more of a rhythmic rat-a-tat-tat that was occasionally followed by what sounded like frantic chirping. Oh, great, I thought. We have an animal caught in the duct work. As I listened more, I decided that it had to be a woodpecker, and although the sound carried down to the basement, it was coming from up high. I hoped this would be a temporary annoyance, since I figured he was looking for food, and he would leave once he realized we had no bugs in any metal things on top of the house (or at least none that I am aware of).
While I was traveling with my parents to Minnesota for my sister-in-law's baby shower, Brett sent me the following text message which made me laugh: "Tennis ball 1 Woodpecker 0 until he comes back." I explained to my parents how this woodpecker kept coming back and we laughed about how dumb he was. The joke's on us though. It would seem that our feathered guest isn't leaving anytime soon. After talking to his parents about a similar experience they had, Brett learned that "Woody" isn't looking for food at all, but rather, he is looking for a mate. Oh great, I thought. He's going to be with us all spring unless he happens to get lucky enough to find a girlfriend, and then maybe they will honeymoon elsewhere. (I don't even want to think about the alternative being that he will find true love and before you know it, we'll have a whole family of woodpeckers knocking on the house.)
I actually haven't seen "Woody," but Brett has chased him off a few times by hurling a tennis ball in his general direction. He even reports that the bird actually knows what is coming when he sees him and now flies off as soon as he pulls him arm back to aim the ball. It seems like he should get the message and find somewhere else to look for love, but apparently, woodpeckers are a bit territorial. Brett may need to update his statistics since he actually slipped off the deck and hurt himself while trying to chase "Woody" away yesterday morning. (Unfortunately, I am still working on the removing the grass and dirt stains from his nice lavender work shirt; it may also be listed as a casualty of the war against "Woody.")
As frustrating as it is to have a resident woodpecker, I am starting to think more along the lines of "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." So, if anyone has a Barry White CD I can borrow, it may just help one lonely bird in his quest for love. And if this relieves us of our unwanted house guest, "Woody" will not be the only one to thank you.