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4 Things Homeowners Need To Know About Woodpeckers

Woodpeckers don't get as much press as more well-known pests like raccoons and skunks, but they're still a problem animal for homeowners. Woodpeckers are a nuisance and can cause a lot of damage to the exterior of your home. Here are four things you need to know about these pests.

What do woodpeckers look like?

Woodpeckers are often thought of as a single type of bird, but they're actually a group of birds. There are about 200 different types of woodpeckers, and their appearance can vary significantly. However, woodpeckers do have a few common characteristics that make them easy to identify. They have long, sharp beaks that they use to peck wood and search for food. If you get a closer look at their feet, you'll also notice that they have four toes, not three like other types of birds.

Where do they live?

Woodpeckers are found throughout the United States. They can live in a wide variety of climates, including the coldest reaches of Alaska. There are seven types of woodpeckers in Alaska alone, and more in the continental states.

They need to live around a source of wood since wood is where they hunt for their food. In the wild, they can be found in wooded habitats like forests and scrublands, but they can also be found living around people. They may take up residence in suburban backyards or even in cities, as long as there is wood nearby.

Why are they pests?

Woodpeckers aren't a problem when they stick to forests and scrublands, but when they go searching for other sources of wood, they can become a problem for homeowners. If there is any wood on the exterior of your home, woodpeckers may forage there. Foraging involves drilling numerous holes in wood and looking for bugs, so as you can imagine, this can cause a lot of damage to the exterior of a house.

Studies have shown that woodpeckers cause about $300 worth of damage to homes that they peck. That may not sound like much, but across the country, it works out to millions of dollars of damage every year. 

Woodpecker damage can lead to an unexpected problem: other pest infestations. The holes that they leave behind on your home's exterior provide a convenient entryway for pests like ants, bees, and other unwanted visitors. These holes also allow water to get inside your house which leads to water damage and mold damage.

How can you get rid of them?

Woodpeckers are protected by the Migratory Bird Act, a federal law that imposes harsh penalties on people who harm certain birds. Destroying nests, poisoning woodpeckers with pesticides, or shooting them are all illegal, and doing any of those things can get you a fine of up to $2,000 as well as up to 2 years in jail.

While killing the birds is illegal, making your home less appealing to them is not. If your home isn't a nice place to live, the woodpeckers will find somewhere else to live. Painting your exterior wood may make your house less appealing to woodpeckers. You can also apply insecticides (or have a pest control company do it for you) to the outside of your house to kill the bugs that woodpeckers eat.

Woodpeckers are a nuisance, but unlike other types of pests, they're protected, so you can't kill them. To control them, try to make your house less appealing to them, and if that isn't enough, kill the bugs that are attracting them. If you're having trouble dealing with the woodpeckers on your own, contact a pest control company like Cavanaugh's Professional Termite & Pest Services to help you scare them off.