Actual Size: 6 to 18”

Characteristics: Color varies between species; males have some red color on their heads along with black and white markings.

Habitat: Will create cavities in wooden buildings and homes in residential areas.


  • Commonly peck out insects from infested wood on structures.
  • Excavate nesting holes during the breeding season, usually in late April and May.
  • Woodpeckers cause damage to wooden structures by their pecking or drilling of holes.

Woodpeckers Identification


What Do Woodpeckers Look Like?

Woodpeckers are medium-sized birds with sturdy bodies, short legs, and strong, chisel-like beaks adapted for drilling into wood. They typically have distinctive markings, including black and white plumage, with various patterns and colors depending on the species. 

Many woodpeckers have red patches on their heads, called “crests,” which are often more prominent in males and can vary in size and shape among species. Another feature – is their stiff tail feathers, which provide support while perched vertically on tree trunks.

Need help identifying a bird species? Take a look at some of the most common birds found in North Carolina here.

Signs of a Woodpecker Infestation

Signs of a woodpecker infestation can include distinctive markings on trees or wooden structures, such as rows of evenly spaced holes or irregular patches where the birds have been pecking. Keep an eye out for wood chips or bark that may accumulate at the base of trees or around areas where woodpeckers have been foraging or excavating for insects. 

Drumming sounds, often produced by male woodpeckers to establish territory or attract mates, can also be a sign of their presence.


Habitat, Diet, Life Cycle & Impact


Where Do Woodpeckers Live?

Woodpeckers live in forests, backyards, and various other types of habitats where trees are available. As evening falls, woodpeckers look for roosting cavities, either an old abandoned hole or a cavity they excavated specifically for roosting purposes. Woodpeckers excavate nesting holes at the start of the breeding season, usually in late April and May. These birds are very selective when choosing sites, and wooden houses or buildings in the suburbs and rural areas are most apt to be damaged by woodpeckers.

Diet of a Woodpecker

Woodpeckers have a varied diet primarily consisting of insects, larvae, and other invertebrates found in wood. They use their strong beaks to excavate holes in trees to access insects such as beetles, ants, and caterpillars. Also, they consume fruits, nuts, seeds, and occasionally sap. Woodpeckers are adept foragers, utilizing their specialized beaks and long tongues to extract prey from crevices in bark or wood.

Life Cycle of a Woodpecker

The life cycle of a woodpecker typically begins in early spring with courtship displays, where males drum on resonant surfaces to attract females. After pairing, females select a nest site, usually in a cavity excavated in a tree. They lay a clutch of eggs, and both parents incubate them for about two weeks. Once hatched, the parents feed the chicks, which fledge after about three to four weeks.

Impact of Woodpeckers

Damage to wooden structures and trees may take several forms. Holes may be drilled into wooden siding, fascia boards, or window casings. Woodpecker damage to utility poles can be severe and widespread in some regions, requiring pole replacement. In addition, woodpeckers will commonly peck out insects from infested wood on structures, particularly the larvae and pupae of the carpenter bee.

Woodpeckers are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act as migratory, nongame birds. Always contact your licensed bird control experts for help with woodpecker problems.


Are Woodpeckers Aggressive?

Woodpeckers are not inherently aggressive towards humans but may display aggressive behavior towards other woodpeckers or birds, particularly during the breeding season when competing for territories or mates. They may also peck on wood or structures as a form of communication or foraging, which can sometimes be interpreted as aggressive behavior, especially if directed towards buildings or property. However, they are generally shy and wary of humans.


Woodpecker Prevention Tips

To prevent woodpecker issues, consider implementing several strategies. Firstly, discourage woodpeckers from foraging on your property by removing dead trees or branches, as these may attract insects, a primary food source for woodpeckers. Secondly, cover vulnerable areas of buildings with netting, mesh, or reflective materials to prevent woodpeckers from pecking or drumming on surfaces. 

Consider installing bird feeders or nesting boxes away from buildings to divert their attention. It’s important to address any insect infestations promptly, as woodpeckers are attracted to areas with high insect activity.

If you require help with professional bird control – contact your local Bug Out team..




Is it good to have Woodpeckers in your yard?

Having woodpeckers in your yard can be good and bad, they can help control insect populations, contribute to the ecosystem, and are fascinating to observe. However their drumming and pecking behavior can be noisy and cause damage to trees, buildings, and other wooden structures. 

What does it mean if a Woodpecker is pecking my house?

Woodpeckers may be foraging for insects or larvae hiding beneath the siding or in wooden structures. They might also be drumming to establish territory or attract mates, especially during the breeding season. Alternatively, the pecking behavior could be a response to seeing their reflection, as they may mistake it for a rival bird.

What can I spray on my house to keep Woodpeckers away?

Various repellents are available that claim to deter woodpeckers, including sprays that emit strong odors or taste deterrents. However, the effectiveness of such repellents can vary, and some may require frequent reapplication, especially after rain. Need help to keep Woodpeckers under control? Contact our professional bird control experts.