Woody the Aluminum Pecker


We had an interesting morning here at the CowChows. We got an early wake-up call from a woodpecker. Actually, it wasn’t so much a wake-up call as a wake-up demand. It was just after daylight, a time of day that I am not well acquainted with, that I first heard it. My first thought was that our house had somehow been turned into a giant bell while we slept, and now a gang of ball peen hammer-wielding angry ninja dwarves was trying to get in.

I threw back the covers and marched to the front door already rehearsing the tongue-lashing I was going to give my inconsiderate neighbor. Ladybug was at my heels already urging me to calm down. But, as I flung open the door and stepped out onto the porch, ours were the only lights on. Then the noise came again and we realized it was coming from the end of our porch, near our bedroom window.

A woodpecker had tried to land on top of one of the aluminum columns that support the roof, and too late he discovered the column was hollow and open on top. He had fallen all the way to the bottom and the space was too narrow for him to fly out. So he was doing the only thing he could do, trying to peck his way out.

We studied on it for a while. We could try to fish him out, but he would likely dismember himself in the effort. We could leave him in there, but then we’d be haunted by that noise forever. We could call someone, but there was no listing in the Yellow Pages under Stupid Bird Rescue.

In the end we did the only thing we could do. We got the hole saw from the shop and cut a two inch hole into the aluminum column. When the bit finally broke through I looked inside and there lay the woodpecker. The stress of being trapped and the noise of the saw must have been too much for his little heart. I fetched a piece of wire to try and hook the body and pull it out, but when the wire touched him he suddenly came back to life. He flapped around inside for a while. We backed off and waited. After a few minutes he stuck his head out the hole and looked around, and then out came the rest of him. He was a beautiful adolescent red-headed woodpecker. He staggered and slumped for a bit, but eventually he flew off and into the big elm tree in the front yard.

He came back later to say thanks. He left two big fat juicy secondhand grubs at our front door. We named him Woody, because Aluminy is just too hard to say.

Cordially yours,

Tim Couch