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True or False? - Woodpeckers can be trapped and removed without a permit.
Correct Trivia Answer: False
You can harass any woodpecker species without a permit, using any control method that doesn’t directly touch the bird or nest. However, once you decide to physically touch the nest, eggs or bird itself, you are required to have a Federal Permit from the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Please contact your regional USFWS office for the necessary permits, if you’re trapping these birds.
Contrary to popular opinion, woodpeckers do not get headaches from banging on trees. They have thickened skulls and powerful neck muscles that enable them to deliver sharp blows without damaging their organs. Their stout, chisel-like bills allow them to bore into wood. The tongue of a woodpecker, often covered with barbs or sticky saliva, can be extended a considerable distance in order to dislodge ants and insect larvae from deep crevices in wood and bark.
Most songbirds have three forward-facing toes and one backward-facing toe. Most woodpeckers, however, have two toes facing forward and one facing back. This is known as a zygodactyl foot and allows woodpeckers to easily climb and grasp trees and other structures. Woodpeckers move up a tree by hopping and depend on their especially stiff tail feathers to serve as a prop. They work their way up a tree, peering and poking into every nook and cranny, and then either fly in an undulating fashion to a new area or glide down to a neighboring tree to begin their foraging anew.
Drumming is the term given to a woodpecker’s habit of hammering loudly and rapidly onto some resonating surface, such as a dying tree, stop sign, chimney, or house. Since woodpeckers do not have a song as do passerine birds, drumming may serve as a territorial signal similar to bird song and it may also serve to attract a mate. Both sexes are known to drum. Many home siding types are potential instruments for woodpecker drumming behavior. These include houses with aluminum siding, as well as the trim boards and fascia boards of any wood, brick, and stucco homes. Also attractive to woodpeckers are metal downspouts, gutters, chimneys, and vents. Holes made by drumming activities are usually in the form of very small dents in the wood, grouped in clusters along the corners or fascia and trim boards of a house. The holes may sometimes be as large as an inch across, round, cone-shaped, and generally shallow.
Roosting holes and nesting holes are most often begun in houses that are in close proximity to wooded areas, have natural wood or a dark-colored stain, and have either a clapboard siding, a board-and-batten siding, a tongue-and-groove siding, and less often, resawn shakes and shingles. Woodpeckers are more drawn to redwood and cedar wood types than to composite wood or Masonite.
There are a few siding types that are more susceptible to insect infestation, thereby attracting woodpeckers to hunt for food on the house. Grooved plywood siding, also known as Type 111, mimics the look of boards backed by battens. It is made from sheets of plywood into which vertical grooves are cut in the lumbering process. These grooves expose horizontal gaps in the core of the plywood. Insects such as the leaf-cutter bee and grass bagworm crawl into these gaps to overwinter, pupate, or hide from predators. Woodpeckers searching for insects will create almost perfectly horizontal rows of holes along the siding following the core gaps. Wooden shakes and attract insects, thereby enticing woodpeckers.
If you’re having problems with woodpeckers, call 1-800-CRITTER (274-8837) to speak with your local Critter Control office. They can recommend/install the best woodpecker control methods to keep these birds from destroying your home.