WOODPECKER LIFE STAGES
Woodpeckers breed in the spring from March to May. Birds excavate holes in trees that will serve as their nest for the entire year. They sometimes use existing abandoned cavities, but most often create their own to use for roosting and breeding. The male selects a site for a nest hole, and both males and females work together to excavate a cavity.
Females will lay between 3-10 eggs which incubate for about two weeks. When a woodpecker hatches, it is featherless and blind. Parents work together to raise their young with the male doing the bulk of the work. He does the majority of labor in constructing the nest and incubates the eggs at night so the female can rest. After another 18-30 days, the nestlings will be ready to leave the nest.
The drumming of a woodpecker on the woodwork or gutter of a residence, in and of itself, is a major annoyance to homeowners. Drumming is a term given to the noise made by woodpeckers pecking in rapid rhythmic succession on wood. This is a springtime activity of males proclaiming their territories. Drumming may occur a number of times a day, and the activity may go on for some time.
Damage to wooden structures and trees may take several forms. Holes may be drilled into wooden siding, fascia boards or window casings. Woodpecker damage to utility poles can be severe and widespread in some regions, requiring pole replacement. In addition, woodpeckers will commonly peck out insects from infested wood on structures, particularly the larvae and pupae of the carpenter bee.
Homeowners are sometimes confronted with the discovery of a series of small holes in rows pecked through the bark of trees. In severe cases, the rows of holes can be drilled so close together, resulting in a loss of sap, weakening and causing significant damage to the tree.
WOODPECKER PREVENTION AND CONTROL
Woodpeckers are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act as migratory, non-game birds. Prevention and exclusion are the primary actions homeowners can take to deter woodpeckers from nesting on their property.
Wooden houses or buildings in the suburbs or in rural wooded areas are most apt to be damaged by woodpeckers. They can be particularly destructive to summer or vacation homes that are vacant during part of the year because the birds are free to continue their activities unnoticed until the owners return.
Take the following actions to prevent woodpeckers from building nesting sites on your property:
- Sheet metal or hardware cloth of ¼ or ½ inch mesh can be fastened over areas of wood buildings that are being damaged.
- The eaves or wood siding of buildings can be netted by a pest professional with nylon or plastic netting to exclude birds.
- Woodpeckers can be discouraged from shade or backyard trees by wrapping hardware cloth or burlap around the area being attacked.
- Remove large trees or prune branches near structures where birds are pecking, as they will feel more exposed and vulnerable.
- Woodpeckers feed on the larvae of carpenter bees. If you suspect these insects are feeding on wooden structures of the home, contact a pest professional for an inspection. Pest treatments to remove carpenter bees will help to eliminate the woodpeckers food source.
- Visual repellants can sometimes be useful in scaring woodpeckers away from buildings. Hawk silhouettes , plastic twirlers, toy windmills and Mylar strips have been reported to give good positive results.
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