The woodpecker’s call is unlike any other. Find out why woodpeckers drill into wood and trees and even metal, and find out what you can do to prevent woodpeckers from damaging your home.


Why Do Woodpeckers Peck on Metal?

Woodpeckers use a different strategy than other birds that use song to stake claims to territory. Hard surfaces, such as wood, are used by woodpeckers as a means of communication and courtship. A single bird may drum over 8,000 times in a single day, while a downy woodpecker may make 16 strikes per second. They will often select a dry, fragile tree limb and beat on it with rapid bursts of hammering.

Northern flickers, which are related to woodpeckers, sometimes use artificial objects to attract attention. Some northern flickers, to the chagrin of their human neighbors, have been known to use chimneys and gutters to enhance their calls.

Their drumming could be heard much more clearly if they discover something metallic to bang on, such as your chimney top. Due to the time of year, this is typical behavior that shouldn’t last too long. Still, if you’re the proactive type, you can protect the metal cap by wrapping it in flexible foam or plastic cushioning purchased from a hardware store. Woodpeckers may be dissuaded from drumming there by the muffled noise.


Why Do Woodpeckers Peck on Wood and Trees?

The Pileated Woodpecker stands out as one of the continent’s largest and most impressive forest birds. The black bird, with white stripes down its neck and a bright red crest, is almost the size of a crow. Huge pileated woodpeckers cut huge holes in the trunk of trees containing carpenter ant or termite nests so they can feast on the larvae.

While pileateds are certainly eye-catching, you may not have seen one because of how elusive and hidden they typically are in the forests. Woodpeckers only peck at wood that is already infested with ants; they do not drill cavities in or destroy healthy trees.


Why Do Woodpeckers Peck on Houses?

If acorn woodpeckers are hammering on your home, there could be several potential causes. It’s possible that they’re hunting insects that have bored tunnels in the wood, or that they’re using the holes to store acorns, or that they’re trying to make a nest. You might try to scare them away temporarily by fixing the damage they’ve caused and repainting the walls. Something that makes a racket when blown by the wind, or even just long pieces of aluminum foil, can be hung up to deter woodpeckers from returning. Irri-Tape, manufactured by Bird-X, is intended to deter birds from landing in such areas.


Woodpeckers Pecking Windows

The drumming of woodpeckers is a means of communication.  Tin roofs, Windows, the eaves of your house, and aluminum siding all provide excellent amplification, which is why they are frequently visited by these feathery percussionists. It can be difficult to discourage them, but you’re doing the right thing. The most effective deterrents are reflecting streamers, although anything that moves or flutters can work. Mylar balloons and aluminum foil can be easily cut into thin streamers; then, the streamers can be taped to a dowel rod and hung from the top of a window. Some people have had success discouraging woodpeckers from damaging their homes by attaching a piece of metal roofing to a pole in an area where the birds can’t easily reach it.

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