It is fairly easy to identify woodpeckers. Woodpeckers are an interesting and familiar group of birds. Their ability to peck into trees in search of food or excavate nest cavities is well known. Many species cause woodpecker problems when they drill holes in sound dry wood of buildings, utility poles, and fence posts where few or no insects exist. Woodpeckers are found throughout the United States. The three most widely distributed species are the hairy woodpecker, the downy woodpecker, and the yellow-bellied sapsucker. Different species are responsible for damage in different regions.
Because they are dependent on trees for shelter and food, woodpeckers are found mostly in or on the edge of wooded areas. They nest in cavities chiseled into tree trunks, branches, or structures, or use natural or preexisting cavities. Many species nest in human-made structures, and have thus extended their habitat to include wooden fence posts, utility poles, and buildings. Because of this, woodpeckers may be found in localities where trees are scarce in the immediate vicinity. Woodpeckers are classified as migratory, nongame birds and are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Damage to wooden buildings may take one of several forms. Holes may be drilled into wood siding, eaves, window frames and trim boards. Woodpeckers prefer cedar and redwood siding, but will damage pine, fir, cypress, and others when the choices are limited. Natural or stained wood surfaces are preferred over painted wood, and newer houses in an area are often primary targets.
Drumming causes little damage other than possible paint removal on metal surfaces; however, the noise can often be heard throughout the house and becomes quite annoying. Drumming is predominantly a springtime activity. They often include metal surfaces such as metal gutters, downspouts, chimney caps, TV antennas, rooftop plumbing vents, and metal roof valleys. Drumming may occur a number of times during a single day and the activity may go on for some days or months. Wood surfaces may be disfigured from drumming but the damage may not be severe.
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