Damage that woodpeckers can cause

Woodpeckers are unique birds that are majestically built. They possess a combination of appealing physical features and extremely destructive behavioral patterns. Woodpeckers exhibit natural destructive habits associated with breeding, feeding, and other processes.

Here are some of the ways woodpeckers can cause damage in the areas they occupy as related to their biological activities.


Woodpeckers feed on insects. In areas they occupy, they can help in effecting pest control. The destructive habits of woodpeckers are associated with their feeding habits. The birds drill houses sided with plywood to feed on the larvae of insects within the siding.

The birds drill the siding of houses by creating evenly spaced holes through which they access the larvae that are in the gaps in the plywood. Leafcutter bees are known for using the gaps within plywood for nesting. They create cells and lay eggs in them. When the eggs hatch, woodpeckers can detect them, with their sense of hearing and sight, and go for them. After finding a larva, woodpeckers continue to drill holes to find others since the eggs are usually laid in groups.

The drilling of the siding of properties to search for larvae within them typically coincides with the nesting period of insects such as leafcutter bees, wasps, and carpenter ants. Since these insects seek shelter and breed within the gaps and are food for the woodpeckers, the birds seek them out and drill holes to get to them. Apart from wood sidings, they also drill window frames. The drilling activities of woodpeckers are not restricted to feeding activities. Sometimes, they still cause damage without necessarily searching for food.

The birds also cause similar damage to trees. In this case, they drill holes in trees to feed on the sap as well as the wood-boring insects. When woodpeckers damage trees, they create a row of small holes. The rows of holes can also be so closely spaced that the tree loses its entire bark and dies much quicker than it should.


Drumming and drilling, the two destructive activities of woodpeckers are closely associated with breeding. The male woodpecker drums surfaces such as hollow trees and wood sidings to mark its territory. The male woodpecker drums surfaces for a few weeks in spring. Although drumming does not cause significant damage to properties and trees, the sound can constitute a nuisance especially as it can continue for weeks.
The drilling activities of woodpeckers related to breeding can damage properties. They create cavities to use as winter roosts by excavating holes. Woodpeckers can drill multiple locations within a building.

How woodpeckers cause damage

Of drumming and drilling, drilling is the more destructive activity of the birds. When they drill sidings and window frames, for example, they create holes that are dependent on the size of the bird. The bigger ones will create big holes, while the smaller ones will create smaller holes. The holes expose the inner layers of these surfaces to the elements and encourage the growth of fungi and molds. The activity of fungi and molds will result in deteriorative effects.

Woodpeckers Damage

When woodpeckers search for food, they tend to focus on dead or dying trees. If there is low availability of such trees, they focus on living trees. Woodpeckers drill holes in living trees just as they do in window frames and sidings.

Holes created by the drilling activities of woodpeckers can heal over time. They may also be occupied by other animals such as squirrels. Squirrels may use the holes created by woodpeckers as nesting sites. As squirrels occupy the holes and stop the healing of the tree, they encourage the growth of the fungi and fasten the destruction of the tree.

Woodpeckers such as sapsuckers are a particular threat to trees that produce sweet sap. Trees that produce sweet sap are mostly found in orchards. Sapsuckers thus can cause extensive damage to orchards.

Sapsuckers cause damage to trees by creating holes that continuously produce sap. As they feed on such trees over time, they distort the natural flow of sap and cause trees to die.

The presence of woodpeckers in an area can result in significant damage in no time. If they are not searching for food or feeding on sap, they are just being destructive because it is their nature.

If not for their destructive nature, woodpeckers would be highly beneficial for the ecosystem. These birds can consume a lot of insects, ranging from mosquitoes to ants and termites. Woodpeckers can also remove clean trees by removing the insects that bore trees and dwell in them. However, their beneficial activities are closely related to the extensive destruction they cause.

The activities of woodpeckers can affect the structure of properties significantly. They can also destroy trees and wipe out orchards. Since it is the nature of these birds to destroy trees and properties, their presence in an area can be a cause of concern.

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