In a scene which can only be described as Pythonesque whilst out on my walk this morning, I came across a bird that appeared to be hard at work burrowing into a wooden electricity pole.
But all was not as it seemed as I got closer and realised that the bird, just like to one in the famous Parrot Sketch, was stuck to its perch.
The rare Black Woodpecker, or at least an image of what I think is one, was fixed high above me onto a wooden electricity pole near Dalston in north Cumbria.
Interestingly holes appeared to have been made in the pole below where the decoy was attached. I was unsure if these were to make the woodpecker appear to be more genuine.
Further internet research whilst writing this article indicated that United Utilities have been using decoys to prevent damage to wooden poles for at least nine years.
News stories have even been published after long range sightings of a similar installation near Keswick prompted a Twitching ‘frenzy ‘.
Pole damage from woodpeckers
It appears that damage caused by woodpeckers to electricity poles is a multi-million pound global problem.
In Alabama, USA, one utility spokesman reports that woodpecker damage costs his company more than $3 million per year.
The article in the Los Angeles Times goes on to say that officials at Pacific Gas & Electric Co. in San Francisco estimate that woodpeckers damage between 200 and 300 poles a year, costing an annual $250,000.
Looking around the web it appears that a lot of effort is going into research and re-engineering to secure power grids. Some companies are installing new poles made from composite materials whilst others are painting existing poles with special paints.
Do you know of other locations where woodpecker decoys have been installed, why use a Scandanavian bird, or who makes these decoys? Let me know in the comments area below.
Until next time
Licks and wags
Note: If you want to see the decoy for yourself it is near to the Nestle Milk factory on the Carlisle – Dalston cycle path.