Woodpeckers

Pileated Woodpecker Clinging

Hearing a woodpecker for the first time can be a unique experience. Their tapping or “drumming” is a rhythmic sequence used to establish territories and to attract mates. However, these distinctive birds can also cause a lot of damage to wooden structures.

Woodpeckers are usually dark-colored birds with red heads. They are typically 7 to 15 inches long and are easily identified in flight. They flap in short bursts, folding their wings alongside their bodies to rest them.

Woodpeckers are insectivores and usually peck dead or rotting wood to find food. They have sharp, pointed beaks for pecking into wood and long tongues for gathering ants and larvae. Some woodpeckers also feed on vegetation, including fruits, berries, nuts and seeds.

Woodpeckers like to nest in cavities that they create in trees, branches or wooden buildings. They prefer finding pre-existing cavities, though. They lay a clutch of 4 to 8 eggs each nesting season.

Although their damage occurs mostly in trees and telephone poles, they can also damage buildings in rural areas. Common targets are summer or vacation homes where the damage can go undetected for a season.

Woodpeckers are sometimes migratory, but most species tend to develop habitats and live in small groups. Woodpeckers can become very territorial, so if damage is occurring to a structure, early detection makes it easier to remove them.

Woodpeckers can peck many smaller holes in a structure usually along the trim or eaves. They prefer cedar and redwood and can sometimes create such large holes that they will nest in them.

If you have woodpecker damage, repair it quickly so the damaged area doesn't attract new woodpeckers. Look to repair the wood with compressed wood siding or metal siding, which woodpeckers cannot damage.