“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!