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Nature… it’s a no red tape zone

“If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.” ~Eleonora Duse


Josh found this little guy in the front yard the other day. In trying to decide just what kind of woodpecker has graced our land and posed so nicely for us, I discovered some very interesting facts about them. Did you know that woodpeckers have really long tongues (the likes of which Gene Simmons of KISS could only imagine)? Apparently, their tongues are usually as long as their bodies.

While conducting my research, I also discovered a service in Atlanta, Ga. which offers woodpecker removal and even calls their tapping a potential annoyance. Their slogan: “Don’t let urban wildlife ruin your life..” really bothered me. I admit that I don’t want certain animals wild or domesticated on our property so Josh and I take care to remove things that would attract unwanted guests. We also plan to fence our entire property and have a gated entrance — but more to keep our animals in than to keep anything out. As more and more housing takes over the natural habitats of these animals, it is little wonder that they adapt by tapping on gazebos and whatnot. Woodpeckers also use dead and decaying trees to nest in and since humans remove such trees from their neighborhoods, woodpeckers are forced to find other places to nest. While we live in a society that wants results right away, there are a few ways to discourage creatures that could be considered “annoying” without the use of harmful chemicals or a service to remove them from the home (which, by the way, was theirs long before it became ours). Here’s what I found:

  • offer nesting boxes and suet in your yard — away from the area in question
  • hang small cosmetic mirrors near the damage with the enlarging lens facing outward (these can be purchased at dollar stores)
  • wooden or plastic hawk mobiles (wingspan of at least 22 inches) can be hung above the eaves
  • sturdy pinwheels (preferrably painted black) can be placed in problem spots
  • the quick repair of damage can also discourage woodpeckers
  • attach hardware cloth or plastic netting under the eaves of the house
  • use of construction materials that discourages insects also discourages woodpeckers

Living in harmony with nature is not always as easy as hanging a few mirrors. In May of 2007, a young viper came into the backyard and attracted the attention of Grace, Logan, and Dustin who promptly surrounded the unsuspecting snake. The dogs, no doubt, attempted to get the snake out of their yard (we saw them do this to a hog-nosed snake once before). The viper (feeling threatened) struck each dog. We were home but working in the house and heard some strange sounds from the backyard. We went out to find that our goldens looked more like shar peis due to massive swelling on their faces. I called the vet while Josh searched the yard for the snake that bit them. He found the snake and put it in a five gallon bucket with a lid in case the vet needed to know what sort of snake bite he/she was attempting to treat. Here it is:


The dogs were treated that day and by the following morning, we knew that we needed to deal with the snake. We talked about releasing it back into the wild somewhere (after all, Josh’s hero is Steve Irwin) but decided to kill the snake because there is no shortage of vipers in this area. A close inspection of the yard and considering the location of the snake when Josh found it suggested that the snake was attracted to the wood we had recently stacked in the fence corner (that wood is now the chicken coop). Had we not created the perfect environment for such a snake in a place frequented by our beloved dogs (who made a complete recovery), this crisis might have been averted. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and we now know to stack the supplies for such projects out of the range of our pets.

The point in sharing this story is not to condone killing certain wild animals or suggest that we are rotten pet owners, but instead to point out that some of the run-ins can be prevented. Perhaps someone reading this blog entry will learn from our oversight or try some of the humane methods of discouraging wildlife from damaging property. The benefits of sharing land with wildlife and offering food & shelter for birds, bats, and other creatures far outweigh the costs.

A quick note to all: we now call the nine female chicks the Beardsleys. Thank you!

  • Dee - Great entry. Interesting info on the woodpecker and need to know info on the viper.

    I hope your dogs are doing alright. I can’t imagine the suffering that they’re going through. Thank you for sharing their story with us. You all be very careful. It’s scary business dealing with vipers. You have my total support on your decision to terminate him permanently. I fully understand. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

    Just out spreading some Love!

    Hope your Valentine’s Day is warm & wonderful!ReplyCancel

  • Tia Julie - This is totally amazing, just yesterday I saw one of these little woodpeckers in our yard too, specifically on our pecan tree. I had suspected his / her existence for awhile because of the obvious holes in our tree, but I had yet to spot him / her until yesterday. Now today, here on your blog is a picture of exactly the same kind that is in our tree. I can’t wait for you to find out what kind he is. I wasn’t fast enough to get a picture of ours so I can’t wait for Tio Raul to see this one. Thank you for sharing all of this information.ReplyCancel

  • Lips of an Angel - We have lots of woodpeckers around here; the same kind in that photo and several others as well. I don’t know where the bird book is though so I can’t look up what kind it is. I personally LOVE to hear them tapping away at the trees.

    I also agree with your post in all aspects. I have a neighbor who shoots animals of all sorts when they come into his yard. He complains they get into his garden – but I know he’s just one of those unbelievable people who likes to go shoot things for the sake of shooting them. Even if they were getting into his garden, there are alternate ways to keep them out. He even shot a robin once – of which I had no proof so I couldn’t do anything but you can bet if I had any proof of it I’d have turned him in! But anyway – he will set things up to attract the animals, then complains when they come around. Needless to say I do not get along with this neighbor – who in the past threatened to shoot my kitties who are mostly house cats but do get out on occasion but they pose no threat to him or his garden. I do my best to keep the kitties in but sometimes they sneak out, what can a person do about that? I’d be devastated if anything happened to my kitties, that’s why I try to keep them in as much as possible even if neighbor wasn’t a trigger happy jerk. Some people just don’t realize how important all these little critters are in the world.ReplyCancel

  • Holly - Hi there, Farmers! (I don’t know what else to call you. LOL) It looks like Josh caught himself a female Hairy woodpecker, there – very cool. Do you have any idea of how big she is? The Hairy woodpecker is about 9″ long, and they do like the bigger trees… How cool that Josh was able to get a shot of her – and such a clear shot, as well!

    You’re so right about the wildlife/human conflicts getting worse as more habitat is lost to corporate development and general human greed; it’s so sad that you had to kill the snake, but it doesn’t sound like there was really any safe place to release it to., so what other alternative was there?

    I wanted to come by to thank you for coming to visit me while I’ve been sick; what a caring and generous thing to do. I’m feeling a little better – I think I’m over the worst of this nasty infection (I hope) – so I’m visiting everyone who’s stopped by to see me.

    Have a great day and a wonderful weekend – and do let me know about that woodpecker. I’m interested to know if I’ve correctly identified it.ReplyCancel

  • Razor Family Farms - Hello friends! Yes, the woodpecker pictured above is either a Hairy or a Downy female woodpecker. Since we cannot tell how long its beak is we can’t determine which. There is an endangered woodpecker that we are on the lookout for in our area: the red-cockaded woodpecker (picoides borealis).

    Oh and you are welcome to call us farmers any time! What a compliment! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Holly - Hi again, Farmers. I was looking at that woodpecker again (I couldn’t help myself LOL), and it is, indeed, a female Hairy Woodpecker. The Downy Woodpecker has a very short beak, and a shorter, more rounded body (6-1/2″ long). What you have there is definitely a Hairy Woodpecker – longer body, longer beak, not so rounded. I checked my bird book just to be certain about the ID, and it confirms it.

    Have a great weekend!ReplyCancel

  • Sami - Yikes! I want a farm so bad but never thought about snakes coming into my yard. That would scare the bejeebuz out of me! I have a cardinal that is in one of my trees every morning. It is such a beautiful bird and I love seeing her. I had to make peace with her since “the cardinal” was the mascot of my high schools biggest rival….I was brought up to not like them. I guess you can teach on old dog new tricks.
    I LOVE your future business idea. I wish we had something like that here. I have heard there is a milking facility near by that I want to check out. Stay true to your dreams and they will become a reality!ReplyCancel

  • Denise - What kind of woodpecker was it? I try and put stuff out for birds…. in fact I have a whole eating complex thanks to dh. 🙂 I thought about putting up pics of all the birds that have visited my feeder so far. We have had downy’s and red headed woodpeckers at our feeders as well as lots others.ReplyCancel

  • Shelli - Hello! I meant to get around to baking this weekend and just didn’t. Maybe next weekend. How have you been? You must be busy getting ready for spring which is blissfully just around the corner and I can’t wait!ReplyCancel

  • Lips of An Angel - Just wanted to let you know there are some pictures up from that farm. 🙂 I hope you’re doing well and having fun getting ready for Spring! It’s a busy time of year. I need to get on the ball and order my flowers I’ve been wanting and start getting some things ready for my own (very little) garden. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • YDavis - I am so glad that your dogs all ok now. You must be worried and scared to death. Snakes! That’s one thing I haven’t thought of yet but perhaps we should because I put in a wood stove this pass winter and we have a pile of wood to be split and stacked for next winter. Yikes, I hate snakes!
    I do have a scary dog story to share with you. It happend last December, about 2 weeks before Christmas. It snowed the night before, so in the morning I went into the garage(the side that we used as storage, which we don’t normally go in) to get my snow boots(I was getting ready to take the dogs out). I did not pay attention that June had followed me in the garage and I had also forgotten that about a year ago we had mice problems and we put some rat poison in that garage…you can see where this is going. I have never been so scared in my life!!! So, for the following 4 weeks, I kept bringing June back to the vet for blood tests and vitamin K shots and I also had to give her 2 shots myself because it was Christmas time. The odd thing was my little precious June did not even show any signs of being sick but I know in my heart she could have died because of her rotten mother. It was about a week after the new year that her blood count finally went back up to normal and I was very glad. I told her that I promise I will never ever let something like this happen to her again!ReplyCancel

  • lacyrazor - Our dogs are our children and the very thought of something happening to any one of them is too much for us to handle — never mind all three. Everyone made a complete recovery and we learned an important lesson — the hard way.

    I’m so glad that you shared about June and the rat/mouse/rodent poison. Others reading this blog will take note of woodpiles and poison in their homes (and remember our experiences) and keep their pets out of harm’s way. Who knows how many much-loved pets we have saved by sharing our stories? Countless, I’m sure.

    You are such a blessing, my new friend! Thank you for your comments!


  • Robert Scott - Hi,
    I just read your post “Nature… it’s a no red tape zone” and would like to pass along my solution for ‘Woodpeckers on my House”.
    We live in Shoreline, a city of 56,000, between Seattle and Everrett, WA. We have Flickers (a member of the Woodpecker family) that started to roost up under the eves of our house 4-5 years ago. Now like you, I feel this is their natural habitat, so when they pecked through the vent screens and let sparrows into our attic to nest, I just put up more screen. When they started pecking away at the top edge of the siding I streched strings with tin foil on them along under the eves. The problem is they eventually got use to it and came back. I started to look at the spiked bird strips commercailly available, but at $6-8.00 a foot and needing 32 feet to do my eves I knew that wasn’t happening! Then at one pest control website they showed what amounts to a 5 or 6 inch diameter stainless steel coil you stretch out and fasten on to the top of walls or on ledges, BUT again it was $8-10.00 , !! IDEA !!, Isn’t that just a giant “SLINKY” ? I want to a local toy store and for $3.00 bought 3 (3″ diameter) “Slinky” brand toys.
    With an extention ladder and heavy stapler, I installed my “bird coils” under the eves and for months now have not had “Woodpeckers” on my house!
    Thanks for your website and all the great ideas,
    Rob ScottReplyCancel

  • Fishing Guy - Lacy: I don’t like snakes and a dangerous one like this should be dipatched quickly.ReplyCancel

  • Wilderness Man : Razor Family Farms - […] Want to read about the one snake we killed or how we try to live in harmony with nature?  Click here. […]ReplyCancel

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