Volume 12 Week 5

Tuesday, Jan. 21


Team of the Month

Posted Jan. 10

Posted Jan. 9

Posted Jan. 7


Orléans Ward
Matt Luloff

Beacon Hill,
Cyrville Ward
Tim Tierney


(Posted 6:30 a.m., July 27)
Woodpecker wreaks havoc in the Hamlet
By Fred Sherwin

Just over a month ago, a stretch of residents on Beechmont Crescent in Blackburn Hamlet couldn’t figure out if they were living in a spin off from the Alfred Hitchcock movie Birds, a Woody Woodpecker cartoon or an excerpt from the TV show, Animals Behaving Badly.

For the longest time, homeowners and visitors to the quiet suburban street, which is tucked in behind Innes Road, were wondering how and why the side view mirrors on their cars were being smashed to pieces.

“Nobody could figure out what they had done wrong to make somebody break their mirrors, or why someone would do this to their cars and trucks,” says Paul Graham who lives on the street.

As the weeks passed, the vandalism continued and the locals’ frustration continued to mount because replacing a side view mirror costs more than a couple of bucks and driving without one is extremely difficult and against the law. Insurance claims were the norm for those unlucky residents of Beechmont Crescent and they wanted answers.

The culprit was discovered one morning purely by accident when Graham’s neighbour was walking to his car. To his surprise the vandal wasn’t an individual, or even a group of wrongdoers, but rather a what, which came in the form of a rather large woodpecker.

The normally tree-dwelling bird would land on an unsuspecting and innocent vehicle, see its reflection in the mirror and wage a personal war against its perceived enemy by pecking at it with its chisel-like beak until it disappeared.

“At first I didn’t believe it, I thought my neighbour was pulling my leg but he said he took a picture and has proof that it’s a woodpecker causing all the commotion on our street,” remembers Graham.

It’s human nature to be a tad skeptical when hearing such a tale, but Graham was starting to become a believer when he saw the photo. He was all-in after the not-so-friendly feathered friend turned his own side mirror into a hollow plastic shell and a pile of broken glass near the curb.

Apparently the destructive scoundrel would go into attack mode early in the morning before most people are up. The early bird was not only getting his share of worms in the morning, but a row of several new mirrors to lay his beak into.

The woodpecker’s hit list continued to rise and the number of damaged vehicles swelled to nine.

The scenario was becoming something Alfred Hitchcock would have been proud of, or had his directing fingerprints all over. Could this be the sequel to his famous 1963 horror-thriller film, “The Birds”?

The Master of Suspense would have had a field day with this plot, making his audience think of how the residents of Beechmont Crescent would protect themselves from being terrorized by this zany bird. How would the story end, what could be done to discourage or stop this mirror smashing demon from causing more damage?

The casualties of the wildlife assault and several other potential victims came up with the clever idea of putting plastic bags over their mirrors while they were parked on the street.

The reaction to the action worked perfectly, the attacks on the defenceless side view mirrors ended with the woodpecker forced to change streets to change locations.

The flying demolition expert may have disappeared from Beechmont Crescent but from the sound of his fighting spirit, there’s a good chance it will turn up again in another unsuspecting neighbourhood —perhaps even yours.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)


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