Who’s That Knocking on My House?!

Around this time of year, there’s another unmistakable sound of spring–the territory of drumming of woodpeckers.  It is exactly as it is described: loud drumming on trees, siding of houses, and even, in my case, metal chimney caps, so as to establish territory and to keep other woodpeckers out.

I make this distinction because woodpeckers also may be drumming on your wooden house for other reasons:  they may be excavating holes in the wooden siding for one of two reasons.  First, there may be wood-boring insects inside that they want to eat–and you’ll know this if they are making lots of small holes in the siding.

Next, if they are making one large hole–a bigger problem for aesthetic reasons, but an easier one to solve–they are looking for a nesting site because of loss of habitat.  Woodpeckers like to nest in dead trees.  For lots of reasons, safety being first among them, we don’t tend to leave dead trees standing much any more.  So woodpeckers have to get creative.  And wooden siding is the next best thing!

The way to solve this problem is by putting up a woodpecker nest box very nearby.

To solve the insect boring problem, of course, call a professional to investigate whether you might have an insect infestation.  And in the meantime, there are some deterrent methods here from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  I’ve heard some folks say they’ve had good success, and others say their woodpeckers were very determined.  I guess it depends on how hungry the woodpeckers are and whether they are feeding young, as well.

2 thoughts on “Who’s That Knocking on My House?!

  1. Shyrlene March 25, 2012 / 1:16 pm

    Excellent point (#2) – loss of habitat is something not often considered. There has been a woodpecker snacking on our parkway tree. There is a known problem with an Ash borer – which has been the demise of at least 35% of the trees in our neighborhood so far. (Villages never think to plant variety – but then this area was established +35 yrs ago.)

    • gardendaze March 25, 2012 / 2:32 pm

      Hi Shyrlene,
      Thanks for reading. You make a great point about the lack of diversity as well. It’s easy to say that folks didn’t know what they were doing 35+ years ago–but I still saw it when I was working in the garden center trade as recently as a few years ago. And just look around at folks planting screen plantings. I’m not sure what they do by you, but here, they never think to put in a lovely diverse hedgerow–it’s all the same arborvitaes or pines. Then when an insect or fungus comes along, they weep and wail and wring their hands. Right now we’re suffering with a boxwood blight that’s just been discovered. They’ve discovered a host–another of the old stand-bys, pachysandra. But a cure? Not yet, and ancient shrubs are dying. And folks are freaking out when they’re being told they can’t replant.

      Amazingly, I find that a lot of people who have gardens are not all that flexible about what they want in them. But if we all liked the same thing, it would be a boring world.

      Thanks for reading!


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