Nature Notebook – Woodpecker Holes in Houses
Woodpeckers are fascinating birds. They can hear beetle larvae feeding and moving about under the bark of trees. They have long, sticky, barbed tongues to snag those larvae. Their brain can survive 1200Gs of force (pilots average a tolerance of 10Gs) each time they drum into a tree.
When that force is directed at trees, it is amazing. When it is directed at houses, not so much.
When a woodpecker searches for food or potential nesting or roosting sites, any wood becomes a potential source. Small holes in straight lines usually indicate where a bird has been looking for insects. Larger, shallow holes in clusters are evidence of territorial drumming. Large and deep holes are left from attempts to excavate a cavity for spring nesting or winter roosting.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology (www.birds.cornell.edu) lists many safe and humane suggestions to convince woodpeckers that a real tree is better than the square tree.