Woodpeckers perform havoc-wreaking encore on B.C. arts centre

The birds have been pecking holes in the side of the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre in the North Okanagan city of Vernon

Some woodpeckers in British Columbia appear to have a taste for the arts, but their efforts to make a local theatre their home are not winning rave reviews.

The birds are northern flickers, a medium-sized, brown-spotted woodpecker common across North America.

They have been pecking holes in the side of the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre in the North Okanagan city of Vernon in an effort to break through the siding and stucco to reach the insulation beneath, where they create a burrow-like nest inside.

Not only are the holes unsightly, but they also expose the building to potential moisture damage, said Tannis Nelson, spokeswoman for the North Okanagan Regional District.

“It’s funny — they’re attractive birds and yet they can make quite a mess,” she said.

So far, the hammering hasn’t impacted shows inside the arts centre, which hosts a variety of musical, comedy, dance and theatre performances.

But staff inside have heard the busy birds pecking away at the outer walls in recent months, Nelson said. Holes in the stucco and insulation strewn across the centre’s lawn are also evidence of how hard the birds have been working.

Related: Shows go on despite arts centre fire

This isn’t the first time the northern flickers have battered the building, either.

Okanagan businessman Keith Eisenkrein said his company, EIFS Armour, helped the centre handle an infestation in 2014 when the birds pecked about 190 holes in one side of the building.

“(The northern flicker) is the most invasive and damaging bird in bird history and (they’re) also a protected creature, protected under the migratory bird act. You can’t harm them,” Eisenkrein said.

Metal netting was installed behind part of the performance centre’s stucco to deter the pests.

Eisenkrein said that work, and many other jobs that led from it, helped him refine tactics to prevent the birds from drilling through the foam panels that are used on many major construction projects.

“The regular walls, when the bird pecks on it, it sounds very hollow, like a tree, so they know they can get in it quite easily,” said Eisenkrein.

He said the key is to change the acoustics of the wall by recoating the panels with concrete and a thin metal mesh.

“When they tap on it now, the bird doesn’t hear that hollow sound and he can’t penetrate metal and concrete.”

Back in 2014, the regional district opted to only do the work on the upper part of the building, where the birds had concentrated their boring efforts, because the repairs were expensive, Nelson said.

For years that seemed to solve the problem, but in recent months, the northern flickers have come back and started attacking the lower portion of the arts centre, she said.

Now the regional district is putting together a request for proposals, which Nelson said they’ll use to help find the best solution to repair the building and prevent future woodpecker woes.

The work is expected to be done this year.

The arts centre is the only municipal building that’s been bombarded by the birds so far, Nelson said, but the problem isn’t uncommon because northern flickers are plentiful in the Okanagan.

“We’re not unique in our circumstances, for sure,” she said.

Eisenkrein said just a few years ago, woodpecker infestations mainly occurred in smaller communities near wooded areas, around the Okanagan and southern Alberta, but that’s changing, too.

Just in the last six months he’s received calls from building owners in Port Coquitlam, Maple Ridge and even southeast Vancouver and Richmond.

“There’s a building on Marine Drive in Vancouver, they had 80 holes on the side of their highrise,” he said.

“If you go to the Island, it’s really bad.”

Related: Stand-up comedians laugh into the arts centre

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

For the 15th year in a row, Chilliwack businesses give away a car to a family in need

Cynthia Duguay, a single mother to three, was given a 2005 Toyota Corolla S

Crews respond to fire in detached garage on Maple Avenue in Chilliwack

Firefighters had to access the small fire via neighbouring property on Woodbine Street

Chilliwack Chiefs chosen to play in CJHL Prospects Game

Harrison Blaisdell and Kevin Wall are among 11 BCHL stars selected to play in the showcase game.

Chilliwack soccer star Jordyn Huitema coming home for the holidays

After a crazy-good year with the Canadian national soccer program, the teenager deserves a break.

Chilliwack jury acquits man of choking, violent sexual assaults of girlfriends

Michael Sean Myers found guilty of criminal harassment and uttering threats in BC Supreme Court

VIDEO: Ex-NASA engineer pranks mail thieves with glitter bomb trap

Package thefts are common this time of year, but YouTuber Mark Rober used his engineering skills

‘Laverne & Shirley’ star, ‘Big’ director Penny Marshall dies

Marshall died of complications from diabetes on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018, at her Hollywood Hills home. She was 75.

B.C. Court of Appeal to rule in terror case that centres on RCMP conduct

B.C.’s appeal court is scheduled to release a decision today on a couple whose guilty verdict over plotting to blow up the provincial legislature was thrown out by a lower court judge.

Trump backs off on demand for $5 billion to build a border wall

Congress and President Donald Trump continue to bicker over his demand that lawmakers fund a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Canadian detained in China, not clear if related to two other detentions

Reports suggest the person is not a diplomat or entrepreneur doing business in China.

Trudeau sees 2019 election as choice between positive Liberals, divisive Tories

Trudeau is drawing much the same battle lines that propelled the Liberals to a come-from-behind victory in 2015

Snowfall warning issued for Coquihalla, Highway 3

Make sure to equip winter tires if travelling

Lightning top Canucks 5-2 in feisty battle

NHL’s No. 1 team too much for Vancouver

Coquihalla closed between Hope and Merritt

The highway is closed in the northbound lane

Most Read