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I'm the early riser in my house, especially in summer. My daughter is out of school, and my wife, an elementary school teacher, is also on vacation, so they stay in bed. I'm usually up before 7:00, making coffee and spending a little time reading the news or nodes.

However, my solitude has been broken in recent weeks by an unusual visitor -- a criminally-insane woodpecker. (Please, you animal-rights-sensitive types, don't go postal. There's no other way to describe this idiot bird).

The edge of the roof on my house is wrapped with aluminum gutters and downspouts. An aluminum frame sun room attaches to the rear of the house on a small patio.

The woodpecker usually arrives at about 6:30. It perches on one of two spots -- on the roof of the sun room, right outside my office window, or on the gutter at the northeast corner of the house. I usually see it when it alights on the sun room; it's a pretty large bird with a flaming red head. I know it's the same bird every time, as it has a rather distinctive dark streak on it's right wing.

The bird then begins his attack. Within seconds, it's rapidly pounding its beak against the aluminum panels on the roof. Those familiar with the sounds of a woodpecker tapping a tree know how loud and hard that noise can be. In the woods, you can sometimes hear it for a mile or more. In this case, the rattling is like the rapid staccato of automatic weapons fire. The pecking only lasts a few seconds, as the bird gives up after one or two attempts. But the force of the pounding literally rattles the house, shaking the window of my office.

The bird alternates his location each day, once at the sun room, the next on the roof at the back of the house.

I'm only going to worry if I find holes in the aluminum.

The reason the woodpecker (Piciformes picadae) is banging on the metal parts of your house is for two reasons. One, it may be trying to attract a mate and two it's telling all the other male woodpecker's that this is his territory and keep out. So there is a method to his madness!! I assume it's male because of the description of the flaming red head. Females tend to be more drab in color for camouflage when setting long spells on their nest of generally 4- 8 white eggs.

They use their strong sharply pointed bill for chipping and digging into tree trunks or branches for wood boring insects such as termites. So you may want to look around for those critters since this woodpecker is setting up his home around your house. The stiff tail is used as a prop and most species "drum" as you noted on resonant limbs, poles or drainpipes. Their flight is usually undulating with wings folded against the body after each series of flaps and for this reason some are called flickers because it looks as if they're flicking through the air as they fly.

Nests are made in cavities chiseled deep into a large branch or trunk. Sometimes the walls of a house, so check around for possible nests. They like a southeast facing nest at about from about nine to twelve feet off the ground. If you would like to discourage this little fella from nesting in your home you can try a large owl figure near the nesting area since owls are their natural predators. You can also hang strips of aluminum that twist and turn in the breeze at his favorite drumming spots. They are fairly intelligent as far as birds go, can be stubborn and rather difficult to remove.

I'm an early riser too so I don't mind all their activities plus they keep the population of the creepy crawlie things like ants and spiders around the house in check.

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