Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore

Baltimore claims Edgar Alan Poe because he lived here for a while and definitely died here. He’s buried here. Poe’s house is still standing on the west side and the city’s NFL team takes its name from his most famous poem, “The Raven.” Poe is forever associated with that “ebony bird,” and I’ve now publicly aligned myself with the woodpecker.

My recent column on the mysterious sound emanating from the walls of my house — it was not a vibrating pipe but a red-bellied woodpecker hammering away at the metal chimney cap above the roof line — brought a lot of mail from readers who were similarly assaulted and similarly baffled.

(Some people reported — and the photos with this post might depict — a northern flicker firing away at chimney caps. I am pretty confident ’twas a red-bellied that took the rivet gun to mine. There’s been one coming to our feeder for several months.)

Here’s a sample from the many letters I received:

From Mayer and Brenda Katz: Just wanted to let you know we had the same mysterious sound. We thought it was from our (recently installed) furnace and called our HVAC company. They couldn’t find anything wrong. We heard it again a couple of days ago and realized it sounded like a woodpecker on the chimney cap. Then we read your column and realized we had the same experience. Thanks for your confirmation!

From Jim Willette: Reading your article today is unbelievable because I’ve been hearing what sounds like a jackhammer some mornings, like this morning in fact. My wife hasn’t heard it and it came to mind maybe it was a woodpecker, which we’ve had frequently because of the trees on our lot. But our closest tree, a 200-year-old beautiful white oak, died and we had it taken down. So I’m not sure, but maybe it is pecking on our chimney cap?  Crazy you wrote about that!

From John Eller: Last Spring in Otterbein I had the same problem, only my entire chimney and fireplace was metal! The sound was so bad that I could not stay in my home. Neighbors congregated each evening to discuss possible solutions over beers. It lasted several weeks but I presume my woodpecker friend (I called him Woody, obviously) finally found his mate!

Check out this YouTube video if you’ve never had the pleasure of hearing the woodpecker’s mating sound.

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