Joe the Bug Hunter: The Excavator

The hammering noise was driving Joe crazy. For days, he’d been trying to discover the source of it.

“Da-da-dadadada…dadadada.”

Frowning, Joe looked out the window and saw nothing but Charlie bouncing along in the snow drifts. What in the world was that noise?

Joe put on his snow suit and went outside, for the third time that day, to try and find the source of the annoying pounding.

He looked up and did not see it. He looked down and did not see it. Where was it coming from, he thought to himself. He turned to go back into the house and saw it. A tiny bird perched on the side of the house pounding away with his beak.

“Whoa,” he said to himself. “What kind of bird is that?”
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Joe observed it for a few minutes and determined, although it was tiny, it was too big to suck up in his bug gun. Instead, he went back in the house to find out what it was.

“Hey mom, what kind of bird would be knocking on a house?”

His mom sighed. She too had heard that pounding for days, and was just as annoyed as Joe. Maybe even more annoyed she thought. After all, she had had a run in with it before. Even though she knew it could not possibly be the same one that constantly attacked their home in Minnesota, she couldn’t help but wonder if it had followed them across two states just to drive her bonkers. Oh how she wished they were not a protected species!

“It’s a woodpecker sweetie.”

“A woodpecker?”

“Yep. They bang on trees, and apparently houses. I think they peck at wood to search for food so I’m not sure why it is banging away on our house.” They had vinyl siding.

Joe normally hunted bugs, but after thinking on it for a few seconds…he decided he could make an exception this time.

“I’ll find out!” he said running over to the laptop.

After an hour of research, Joe had found out A LOT about woodpeckers. He still thought the constant banging was extremely rude, but he also thought the birds were pretty cool.

They could be aggressive loners or social and live in groups with their friends and mates. Some of them even mingled with other birds that shared their taste in food.

Now for the really cool part…they ate bugs…all kinds of bugs from beetles to caterpillars. For dessert (at least Joe thought it was dessert), they ate fruit, nuts and tree sap. Most of the time they found their food in dead or decaying trees, but the sap and nuts they got from healthy, live trees.

They got some of their bug food from live trees too. And usually they kept the trees healthy by eating enough bugs to protect them from a mass take over, like from termites. They used their giant, horned tongue to extract the food. Blech.

Unfortunately, they also ate ants and spiders…useful garden bugs.
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Joe looked out at the property. They didn’t have very many trees and the ones they had were small and scraggly, which must be why this one was pecking on the house. 

He typed in a few more key phrases and found a few sites that gave some information on what kind of animals…lets just say were known to “deter” the woodpecker from pecking. Hawks, eagles and even fox for the larger ones.

He watched Charlie sitting on the deck surveying his kingdom. They already had coyotes at night so he didn’t want to add foxes to the list of things to worry about.

He remembered seeing a red-tailed hawk perched on their garden shed. He typed in a few more search terms and found a few sites that said that these hawks ate small rodents, mice and…rabbits.
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Hmmm…so they ate rabbits and mice too.

“Hey mom…I think we can probably kill two birds with one stone using this woodpecker as bait.”

Joe chuckled. “Two ‘birds’ with one stone. That’s funny.”

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