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B.C. woodpecker builds home in world's largest hockey stick, raising concerns


In North Cowichan, B.C., there is a woodpecker – or possibly two – that have been causing concern about the state of the world's largest hockey stick.

The pesky little woodpecker has been slowly popping a hole through the 61,000-pound Douglas fir hockey stick attached to the Cowichan Community Centre over the past two weeks.

"I thought it was looking for bugs but now I’m not sure," said community member Marion Martin.

It's mating season for woodpeckers and according to one Victoria birder, food is not this woodpecker's motivation.

"The hole that he is making there is definitely a potential nest cavity," said Ann Nightingale, a Victoria-based birder.

The northern flicker woodpecker is pictured pecking at the giant-sized hockey stick. April 18, 2022 (CTV News)

Lorraine Francisty is a figure skating coach at the arena. She was the first to discover the northern flicker and its exploits.

"I came out of the arena and saw the bark mulch on the ground and looked up and there it was," said Francisty.

She alerted arena staff who got up there in a picker and plugged the hole with steel wool.

"Then a week later I noticed the birds had pulled the plugging out," said Francisty.

She has seen two separate woodpeckers here over the past few weeks, possibly a male and female.

"I think this one has a mate," said Nightingale. "My guess is this is a male."

Arena staff then covered the hole with a steel plate, prompting the persistent pecker to find a new part to drill.

The northern flicker woodpecker is pictured pecking at the giant-sized hockey stick. April 18, 2022 (CTV News)


Francisty has concerns about the damage being done to the town's iconic landmark.

"Well, I’d like it to move along," said Francisty. "I’d like to protect our hockey stick."

But how do you convince a bird, dead set on making a home in this massive piece of real estate with a view, to move along?

"It’s really hard to discourage them, but one of the things you can do is to set them up with a better house," said Nightingale.

The birder suggests setting up a nest box in the area. But that alone won’t be the solution as woodpeckers can be picky.

"Fill it full of wood chips because they love to throw the wood chips out of the nest cavity, it makes them feel like they’re actually building it," said Nightingale.

"You might be able to draw the birds away from the stick with better housing," she said.

Recreation centre staff say the plan is to bring in another lift to inspect the hole. If a nest has already been established, they say they want what's best for the family of birds and will leave them alone for the season. Top Stories

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