Janet Combs (copy)

Janet Combs

Many of you have been losing sleep over the fact that you have no closure regarding the state of the woodpecker assault on our cedar siding, documented in a column a few weeks back.

Fortunately, “Planet Janet” is a serial that methodically, chronologically and some might say ridiculously covers significant news at it occurs. There was no woodpecker news—at least none we were aware of—in the past few weeks. But now there is. So please read on and enjoy a good night’s sleep because no woodpeckers are residing in your walls.

As you will recall, we had made the astute decision to order an eagle decoy that had flashing eyes and emitted a harsh, erratic screeching to keep the woodpecker away. We eagerly awaited our powerful new eagle ordered on eBay. But week after week went by, and he failed to show up for work.

Apparently, the internet is full of fibbers, many of whom have awarded themselves five-star ratings and glowing reviews. Our seller responded to our inquiry with a “should mail out in a couple of weeks,” message, which filled us with such confidence that we immediately cancelled our order. By this time, we had stopped hearing the off-and-on percussive rapping on our siding, so we convinced ourselves that we didn’t really need an animated woodpecker deterrent.

Note that “animated woodpecker deterrent” is the kind of phrase that English teachers love and new English speakers hate, so please use it with caution going forward.

We kept ourselves busy, pecking away at our own list of 431 home-improvement projects on the weekends, and I perhaps that’s how we missed it. Thankfully, we have terrible internet service that we pay out the wazoo for. In fact, if it wasn’t for our horrendous internet service, we would still be completely unaware of what was going on, woodpecker-wise.

As a matter of fact, after I finish writing this column, I’m going to fill out the comment card for our shoddy internet service provider and thank them profusely for helping me discover the woodpecker family nesting in the walls of our home. This will cause some disruption for the survey tabulators, as this type of comment defies categorization, which is always my goal when responding to surveys.

Here’s how we detected the avian squatters. My home office was located farthest away from the internet connection, so every time I needed to do some research for my column, such as look up how many times the phrase “animated woodpecker deterrent” appears in the Rosetta Stone English language learning program, I would get dropped from sites or get messages about how I was not connected and I needed to unplug my router. I decided to move my home office to the room directly above the router, in the hopes that I would experience faster service. And that’s when I heard it.

Initially, it was a mild sort of screeching, such as a baby animated woodpecker deterrent might make, above the closet in my new office. I was about to go downstairs to tell my husband we had mice in our walls when I looked out the window and saw the iridescent red head of the woodpecker in the nearby tree.

We went outside to assess the damage and discovered the grand foyer the woodpeckers had carved in our siding, about 32 feet up off the ground. At the evening’s feeding time, we watched with a mixture of pride and horror as the woodpecker parents flew in repeatedly to attend to their growing family. Woodpeckers have a clutch of two-to-five babies, but we’re pretty sure we’ve opened the South Strand Woodpecker Birthing Center, because the noise is outstanding.

We’ll wait for them to leave the nest before boarding up their accommodations. In the meantime, I can always look up woodpecker facts with my atrocious internet service. Because if you ask me, that awful service is really for the birds.

Janet Combs is a freelance writer living in Georgetown County. Contact her at www.janetfrickecombs.wordpress.com.