Tis the season for drumming, pounding, beating, tapping and drilling. All words used to describe what active woodpeckers are doing this spring on the sides of houses, antennas, dead tree trunks and limbs. It’s enough noise to beat the band.
Woodpeckers and flickers make these sounds for three main reasons: communicating, foraging or making a home.
The loudest of the woodpecker sounds are when a male is pounding away on something that resonates really well. This is called drumming. It’s all about communication. The male woodpecker is trying to let potential rivals know that this particular area is his territory and he is also trying to attract a mate.
There is a Red-bellied Woodpecker using the top of a dead tree trunk in my yard to drum out his declaration of territory. He pounds a few times for a few seconds on the resonant trunk and then does a few calls. It’s very interesting to watch and listen.
If woodpeckers aren’t drumming, they are foraging. Two years ago a Downy Woodpecker was seemingly foraging on the wood trim of my house. You could hear him lightly tapping. He was leaving small-diameter, shallow holes all over the place. We went about trying to scare him off by hanging iridescent scare tape over the areas and he eventually gave up for less annoying pastures.
If woodpeckers aren’t drumming or foraging they are drilling. Woodpeckers and flickers are primary cavity nesters. They drill entrance holes into trees and excavate a nice one bedroom home. If a woodpecker is doing this on your house, try placing a nesting box directly over the hole. Use the species-appropriate box and fill it with wood shavings. Otherwise you’ll need to use scare tactics or barriers to encourage them to move elsewhere.
Are woodpeckers causing you to exclaim to beat the band this spring? If so, click here to check out our educational woodpecker page at wbu.com or visit your local Wild Birds Unlimited store for tips and products to alleviate the pounding. Find your nearest store here.