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Woodpeckers

redheaded woodpecker .gif (19522 bytes) Six species of woodpeckers breed in Florida, including the downy (Picoides pubescens), hairy (Picoides villosus), red-headed (Melanerpes erythrocephalus), red-bellied (Melanerpes carolinus), pileated (Dryocopus pileatus), and red-cockaded woodpeckers (Picoides borealis).  All excavate cavities in trees and feed on insects gleaned from under the bark of trees. 

As their name implies, woodpeckers feed by pecking to chip off, or drill into, tree bark. Woodpeckers sometimes damage decaying wood siding on houses in search of insects.  They may even attempt to excavate a nesting cavity if the siding is soft enough and insects are plentiful.  

In the spring woodpeckers will often "drum" on almost any surface including aluminum siding.  This staccato hammering is a courtship display only and seldom damages the surface being drummed on.

Homeowners can often deter woodpeckers from damaging siding by removing their source through replacement of rotted boards with sound ones.  Gentle harassment with water hoses or silhouettes of snakes or owls at problem sites is sometimes effective.  Excluding woodpeckers from the surface with plastic or nylon netting is the surest method.  Repellents are generally of limited value. 

Woodpeckers are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and are also protected under state law, and may not be trapped or killed without federal permit.

You can receive technical assistance for woodpecker problems by contacting your nearest FWC regional office.

More information

Wildlife Resources Handbook information on damage control 

Cornell University advise on woodpecker problems

University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension (.pdf)

 

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