Imagine..a soft spring morning, you're just waking up and you hear a bone rattling RATATATATATAT, what sounds like a machine gun right outside your window. Yep, the flickers are back.

Specifically, the Northern Flicker, a woodpecker that calls western Montana home, and where the annoying sounds of their pecking can drive you to distraction.

Flicker

Never fear, most of the time, according to Education Specialist Vivaca Crowser with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, they're not trying to excavate a nest in your home, they're just announcing....we're here!

"We get calls all the time in the spring with people hearing flickers on their house or nearby, and wondering if damage might result," Crowser said. "Usually, all that noise is just the flickers trying to establish a territory. Most of the time, they're not nesting, they're just announcing that they're here in the neighborhood."

Crowser said if the loud hammering really bothers you or your family, to act quickly to deter the flickers from using your home as a loudspeaker for their mating calls.

"Try different things, because if you just make noise, like banging pots and pans, pretty soon they'll realize you're not a threat and return," she said. You can also hang things in an area where you've heard the flickers, like brightly colored ribbons, or balloons, just anything they might be leery of."

Crowser emphasized the one thing you cannot do, is shoot them.

"The flickers are a protected species under the Migratory Bird Treaty," she said. "You might try spraying water in their direction and usually, that's enough of a deterrent, but you cannot shoot them, that's illegal."

Crowser said flickers like to nest in dead trees or old fence posts, so if you have some in your area, let hem remain for the birds to build their nests.

Luckily, the nerve-rattling pecking won't last long, they're usually all done advertising by mid to late May.

I like to have my drum set handy...because I can usually bang louder then they can, besides, I've never heard a flicker do a double flamadiddle.