paperclip woodpecker



  • All woodpeckers are protected.
  • The pileated woodpecker is now making a bit of a comeback, apparently getting habituated to humans and thus making more appearances in backyards. It is about the size of a crow and usually prefers mature and rotting forests. Their populations have actually been increasing at about 1% per year (for the past 25 years). This is one of the fastest rates of any of the birds surveyed.
  • Woodpeckers generally go after trees that are full of insects or that are rotting from the inside out. This means that woodpeckers serve as a sort of warning to homeowners that their trees are potentially sick or dying.
  • They eat tree-living or wood-boring insects, fruits and nuts.
  • They usually have 4-8 young.
  • Rhythmic pecking (drumming) is used to establish territories and to attract mates (usually in the spring).
  • They have short legs and, in addition to normal toes with sharp claws, they have backward pointing toes that help them climb up and down trees. They have stiff tail feathers.
  • They have stout, sharply pointed beaks for pecking into wood.
  • They are very persistent, making it hard to drive them away from pecking sites. Try to identify the problem early.
  • They may be aggressive when protecting young.

Problem Diagnosis


Refer to SELF-HELP if:

  • The woodpeckers are pecking on the house or on objects in the yard.
  • They are pecking holes in a house.
  • Fruit or nut trees are being damaged.


The problem is recurring.


Habitat Modification & Exclusion

  • Place netting beneath eaves of house and over fruiting plants using lightweight mesh or plastic netting.
  • Place metal sheeting over pecked areas (make sure there is no active nest inside).


  • Place toy plastic twirlers or windmills around pecking area (these must be repositioned frequently).
  • Put aluminium or bright plastic strips or pie pans up that rely on wind for motion.
  • Loud noises (clapping, cap gun, etc.) usually scare them off temporarily.
  • Spread sticky repellents like Tanglefoot® on landing surfaces (bird is not trapped, just does not like footing).
  • Place linseed oil or BENGAY® on the pecking wood surface.
  • Put up owl or snake models (but not that effective due to habituation).
  • Control the insects that may be attracting the bird.
  • Cover the surface that the bird is drumming on with something soft.

Orphaned or Sick Woodpeckers:

  • Young woodpeckers are extremely aggressive towards each other. They will compete for food and will actually push each other out of the nest or stab at each other with their beaks. Finding a young woodpecker at the base of a tree is not uncommon. However, in this case, replacing the young in the nest usually will not work since it will only be shoved out again. These babies should be referred to a properly licensed rehabilitator.
  • If a tree has been cut down with a nest inside, the babies can be sent to a rehab clinic. However, if the section of tree that the nest is in remains intact, simply hang it up near the original site. The parents will usually continue to care for the young. Watch it from a distance for a few hours to see if the parent returns. If it does not, bring the entire log to the rehab clinic.

Professional Assistance

  • Wildlife services can obtain the required federal permits necessary to take protected birds.
  • If all reasonable action does not work. Contact MP Bird Control at 514-273-9111.
  • If you have an injured or orphaned woodpecker, contact Le Nichoir at 450-458-2809.