Why do woodpeckers peck?

Woodpeckers are relatively picky and don’t just make their home in any old yard. It has to have a plentiful food supply, hollow trees and be located in a nice warm area.

Why do woodpeckers peck wood?

Woodpeckers peck wood for food, to create nesting spaces, attract mates and communicate with other birds. For these reasons, woodpeckers are mainly drawn to wooden areas that are infested with insects.

Although it may feel like a woodpecker is drilling and drumming constantly, there are certain times of the year when they tend to cause even more of a commotion.

Woodpeckers start to excavate several roosting holes during the Fall in preparation for the colder weather. Then in the Spring, a resurgence of drilling activity occurs as they start to prepare for the nesting season. This is not before a great display of drumming has taken place, as they attempt to attract a mate.

Why do woodpeckers peck my house?

Woodpeckers can peck up to 20 times a second (around 12,000 times a day), so just imagine how irritating that would be if they chose your house in which to bang against. And it’s not just the wooden walls that they like, they can cause serious destruction to your chimney, downpipes, vents, gutters and eaves.

But why do woodpeckers choose to knock on your door as opposed to someone else’s?

  • This might sound crazy, but woodpeckers tend to target a particular type of property. If your house fits the “bill” of being dark or earth toned in color (browns and grays) or being made out of naturally stained cedar, redwood or mahogany, then for a woodpecker it might just be too good to fly past.
  • Although woodpeckers get the majority of their food from foraging around in wooded areas feasting on insects, berries, fruits, seeds and sap, our houses can also provide some valuable nutrition hiding termites, carpenter bees, ants and their larvae.
  • In addition to being able to enjoy a good meal, woodpeckers will peck at our houses to attract a mate. The males look for items that will create the most noise in order to entice a female. This could be a rotten piece of wood, chimney pot or a metal pipe.
  • If a suitable tree is not available in which to make a nest and store their food, then a woodpecker will seek out the next best thing. Houses made from cedar or redwood are great for chipping away at and damage usually occurs in the shingling or corner posts.

For those who have experienced woodpeckers attacking their home, you may well consider them to be pests. However, in America they are protected, and you need a special permit in order to exterminate them.

woodpecker house and nest

4 top tips to deter woodpeckers away from your house

Most woodpeckers are non-migratory, so when they find a place they like, chances are they will stay put for as a long as possible. Those who do choose to migrate are those species who fly southwards for their holidays in search of balmy weather – but not before the damage has been done.

If you do hear or see a woodpecker wreaking havoc around your home, then you need to act fast. Here are our top tips for preventing woodpeckers from drumming on your property.

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, during the cold seasons you should try some distraction tactics such as: –

  1. Laying more bird food around your garden. By making tasty treats easily accessible often encourages woodpeckers away from foraging within your walls.
  2. By planting fruit and berries trees as far away from your home as possible should tempt woodpeckers to move elsewhere for their meals.
  3. People have conflicting views on whether you should trim back trees in order to leave as many natural nesting sites as possible. We would advise against this and instead recommend that you remove any large trees and prune back branches near to your house in order to discourage woodpeckers to peck, as they will feel more exposed and vulnerable when out in the open.
  4. Offer them a purpose built roosting box instead. This way they won’t have to go to the hassle of chipping one out for themselves. Just remember to place it well away from your house.

If none of the above appears to be working and the woodpeckers find your house much too homely to resist, then you should: –

  • Fill in any holes that have been created by woodpeckers the minute they appear. Although this may simply encourage the woodpecker to move to another area of your home, it will prevent bugs from burrowing inside.
  • Place a decoy around your property. Imitation predatory birds are great for deterring all types of pest birds; however, they are often only short term solutions. It doesn’t take long for intelligent birds (such as woodpeckers) to figure out that these are fake and will not harm them.
  • Nets are good for placing over large areas that are being attacked as they are difficult to peck through and prevent woodpeckers from getting a grip on the side of buildings. Tricky to hang, you often need professional help.
  • Whilst bird spikes will not prevent woodpeckers from making holes, they do make it impossible for them to sit on ledges in which to create their cunning plans and prevent them from drumming against metal and pipes when attracting a mate.
  • Hang reflective tape on previous holes and around your property to create the illusion of predator eyes. This will make a woodpecker feel uneasy and they are more likely to remove themselves away from danger. Balloons with hand drawn eyes can be just as effective.
  • Sprinklers and floodlights can be incredibly good as a nighttime deterrent as the motion sensors pick up the woodpeckers in full flight and assaults them with light or water.

In Summary

Woodpeckers tend to peck in order to eat and roost, so if you eliminate these sources then you are giving them less reasons to hang around. Killing off bugs and insects that have infested your woodwork and offering alternative food supplies and nesting boxes will ultimately drive these birds away from your house. Whilst no one wants to eliminate woodpeckers, we do need to deter them from damaging our properties.



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