Woodpecker Habits and Preferences
Woodpeckers get their name from their behavioral tendency to “peck.” The reasons behind the pecking are varied; they may be searching for food in the material that they are pecking, building a nest in the material, or simply finding an area in which they can store food. A woodpecker pecking on a surface is different from drumming, where a woodpecker will peck in rapid succession. They may do this on homes, trees, or any other area where the acoustics will fit their needs. Drumming is done to attract mates and to establish territory, and can be done where there is no food source whatsoever.
The most costly woodpecker damage occurs from drumming done to attract mates and establish territory. Drumming may cause defacing holes in structures, homes, utility poles, and other areas. When woodpeckers have pecked or drummed a hole into a home and insulation begins to protrude, they may begin to pick it out in search of food. The resulting damage can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. The other cost of woodpeckers comes to your peace of mind, as the drumming or pecking can be very disruptive (even if no structural damage is done).
Biology of Woodpeckers
Woodpeckers are very common in the Pacific Northwest, particularly in the spring and fall seasons. Woodpeckers have sharply pointed beaks and a long tongue that is specifically adapted to stick out for an extended period of time to probe cracks and crevices for food sources. There are over 20 species of woodpeckers in the United States, and are migratory. Woodpeckers will feed on insects, grubs, and other invertebrates. They can vary in size and color, but their behavioral traits make them easily identifiable. The Northern Flicker is the most common woodpecker which attacks our residential and commercial structures.
Woodpecker Control Measures & Prevention
Woodpeckers as migratory birds are protected by the federal government; this means that no methods can be employed which might injure, trap, or forcibly remove a woodpecker from your home — even if damage has been extensive — without working through your local government and Fish & Wildlife representatives. However, there are some steps that can be taken to dissuade woodpeckers from continuing at your home or business.
Woodpeckers have shown that they can be spooked by new, abrupt items being placed into their environment. Specialized balloons or reflective mylar stripping may be installed in strategic locations to scare or disrupt the woodpeckers’ typical patterns, ideally resulting in their departure from the area. There are other visual deterrents that can also be employed. Small exclusionary netting or screening can also be installed to those areas where woodpeckers have been most common to encourage their departure. It is important to trust woodpecker control to individuals who understand their unique behavioral traits and can devise a plan that will be most effective for your specific situation.