Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Invasion of the Flickers

After we bought this house we realized we had a bird problem. There were two holes in the front of the tower, which while nearly symmetrically placed were for neither drainage nor ventilation. They were bird holes. Passers by would eagerly alert us to the blah blah blah birds that they saw nesting in our house. It frankly went over my head, all I heard was the voice of the teacher from Peanuts. WE could see the birds flying in and out of the holes. And near the end of the summer I would find birds flying around inside the attic, even though all the windows have screens.  SO they were managing to nest in our wall cavities and then make their way up to the attic since the house is balloon framed.

I ended up hiring one of the carpenters from the company where I used to work to come patch and fill the holes to keep the birds out. They stuffed them with steel wool and covered it with spray foam. I hoped our problem was over. There were a total of 4 holes filled.
Nope. This spring nesting season we were plagued with these long beaked birds pecking into the siding of the tower as well as in the dentil mould above the west facing balcony. I was constantly throwing up the window sash shouting at the birds like some crabby old man. Which wasn't an easy task considering I am pregnant and the access to the balcony is through a window. Unfortunately Mr. W has been excpetionally busy atr work so I had to fight this battle more or less on my own.

I referenced a bird watchers identification book which I had purchased last spring when Our Little Helper and I became interested in watching birds. I determined that our long beaker nuisance was the Northern Flicker, which likes to make its nest in dead wood. Well, apparently southwest facing, 120 year old siding is the perfect amount of dead for them. Since we have 6 mature birch trees in the parking strip one each sides of the house I was hoping that by providing alternate nesting in the form of bird houses would encourage them to nest elsewhere. Mr. W also began to research the possibility of adding a fake owl on the roof to distract them.

At the local backyard bird shop I purchased 2 large flicker houses. They come with a bag of saw dust which they apparently like to toss around when nesting. We should clean out the boxes at the end of the nesting season and either leave them mounted or remove them until the following nesting season. She said it is possible that other creatures might use the boxes as a home in the interim. The salesperson recommend that we also finish it with  linseed oil to make the last longer.  Since fake owls don't tend to be very effective for deterring flickers, they instead recommended metallic scare tape. I'm supposed to suspend this out the windows so that it blows in the wind it will startle birds away. I don't love this idea, but I am growing weary of shouting at flickers all day so I'm willing to give it a try.

Here are the large flicker bird houses, made locally of milled cedar.

And since they weren't cheap I applied one coat of linseed oil.

Now I need Mr. W to mount them 10-20 feet above ground in the trees.  I suspended the scare tape from the attic windows so that the tape covers the area where the flickers were pecking holes. Not my idea look for a Queen Anne, it would be very appropriate if were were along the gay pride parade route. Fingers crossed this works!

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