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Who's Knocking?

Did you know why woodpeckers will sometimes drum on metal objects?

Drumming serves as a form of communication among woodpeckers. It can help them establish territories, attract a mate, and communicate with other woodpeckers in the area. During the breeding season, male woodpeckers (like the Northern Flicker in the photo) drum as part of their courtship display to attract a mate. Loud, fast, rhythmic drumming signals strength and vitality, so in order to make as loud of a noise as possible in front of potential mates, they sometimes drum on metal flashing, chimneys, telephone poles, and houses. A drumming woodpecker is not drilling a hole, he is simply making a loud noise and while this can be annoying, he will most likely stop in a few weeks once he has found a mate.

In comparison, when chiseling out a nest cavity, woodpeckers do not drum. They strike repeatedly at the potential nest site at a much slower and more irregular rate than drumming, chipping away small pieces with their powerful beak. This process can take days or even weeks, depending on the size of the cavity needed.

Is there a woodpecker causing a ruckus around your house?

-Try hanging lengths of shiny tape around the area that you notice the woodpeckers hanging out. Pinwheels and windsocks are also sometimes effective

-If you have the capability, a motion-sensor noisemaker can also be effective. Set it to play a loud noise or bird alarm calls whenever it is triggered to make the woodpecker believe your house is an unsuitable area.

-One of the more effective ways to stop a woodpecker from pecking into your house is to give him an already-made cavity to nest in! Northern Flickers in particular are quite fond of man-made boxes. The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has a plan here:

Don't forget: If there is already a nest/eggs/chicks present in a cavity, it is illegal to interfere with them or the parent birds. They are protected under BC's Wildlife Act until the babies have flown away.

Want more bird activity around your yard? Check out our How to Help Birds page!


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