The first step in preventing woodpecker damage is understanding why woodpeckers peck.
Did you know there are over 120 species of woodpeckers worldwide? They can be found on virtually every continent and range in size, color, tendencies, and habitat. As different as they may appear to be, they all share one thing in common; pecking (also known as drumming) trees for food, storage, nesting, and mating/territory. These birds typically target dead or dying trees. However, they will target living trees if they’re looking to eat the tree’s sap.
From time to time these birds go rogue and decide to use peoples’ homes, properties, and desirable trees for the aforementioned purposes. That’s where I’m going to help you. With the use of a good woodpecker deterrent, we can persuade these birds to return to their natural habitat and leave you alone for good!
Please feel free to leave a comment below with any questions you may have.
Below are the 4 main reasons why woodpeckers peck:
Despite what many people think, woodpeckers do not actually eat wood. Their diet consist mostly of insects such as termites, grubs, bees, and ants. However, depending on the time of year, they have been known to eat nuts, berries, acorns, fruit, seeds, and tree sap. They also love woodpecker suet cakes if you’re kind enough to feed it to them.
Since woodpeckers love to eat wood boring insects such as termites, it’s easy to understand why they would peck on your wood siding if there is a bug infestation. Although these birds can do quite a bit of damage to the side of your house, they may be doing you a big favor if there are termites feeding off it. They are incredibly intelligent birds and can actually hear the termites inside the wood. When searching for food, they typically make several closely grouped holes in the siding in an attempt to locate the bugs.
Here is a video of a woodpecker making these types of holes. Notice that the holes are just small enough for him to get his beak into the wood to retrieve the bugs. If you look closely, you can actually see him feeding on the insects:
Call a local exterminator to inspect your house for termites or any other insects that could be damaging your home!
Below is an example of a yellow-bellied sapsucker drilling holes in a tree to extract its sap:
Woodpeckers, primarily Acorn Woodpeckers, have been known to create holes in wood to store food. They do this during the warmer months in preparation for winter. Storing the food high up in trees and houses allows the birds to have a predictable food supply during the winter. This eliminates the need to forage the snow covered ground.
Below is a video of a woodpecker making holes and storing acorns in a tree:
Woodpeckers don’t always just peck for food, they often peck to create nesting cavities. These birds have the ability to burrow deep inside a tree or house where it can escape predators and stay warm. You will know if a woodpecker is pecking your house for shelter rather than food if it is making large holes that it can fit into. If these birds are pecking your house for shelter, it is paramount that you acquire a quality woodpecker birdhouse to give them an alternate source of shelter.
Here is a video of a woodpecker making a nesting cavity in a house with wood siding. Notice how much larger the hole is than the ones made above for food purposes. The woodpecker is making a hole large enough to fit its entire body into:
Woodpeckers also love making nesting cavities in stucco because of the easily removable surface and Styrofoam. Once they dig out the cavity, the Styrofoam provides a soft, warm liner for their nest. Here is a video of a woodpecker making a nesting cavity in stucco:
The final reason why woodpeckers peck (drum) is for mating and territorial reasons. They peck on various surfaces to communicate with other woodpeckers. This is done to assert their dominance or attract a mate. Both males and females participate in drumming.
Here is a video of a woodpecker drumming on a roof vent. Notice that unlike the other reasons for pecking, this is done solely to create sound:
Now that you understand the 4 reasons why woodpeckers peck, choose the appropriate woodpecker deterrent to prevent them from doing further damage.
I will also teach you how to repair woodpecker damage that you may already have.
Please feel free to leave comments below!