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Biology & Control of Woodpeckers Candace Cummings Urban Wildlife Specialist Clemson University Biology of Woodpeckers 21 species in U.S. hairy, downy and yellow-bellied most common & widely distributed tree-dependent species 2 sharp-clawed toes, stiff tail feathers

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biology control of woodpeckers
Biology & Control of Woodpeckers

Candace Cummings

Urban Wildlife Specialist

Clemson University

biology of woodpeckers
Biology of Woodpeckers
  • 21 species in U.S.
  • hairy, downy and yellow-bellied most common & widely distributed
  • tree-dependent species
  • 2 sharp-clawed toes, stiff tail feathers
  • most feed on tree-living or wood-boring insects
    • stout & sharp beaks, long tongues can extend a considerable distance
  • breed & have young in the spring
slide3
Northern flicker Pileated

Yellow-bellied sapsucker

woodpeckers
Woodpeckers

Red-bellied Red-headed

endangered woodpeckers
Endangered Woodpeckers

Red-cockaded Ivory-billed

damage damage identification
Damage & Damage Identification
  • Damage to sides of wooden buildings/houses, drumming noise
  • Utility pole damage & timber reported
  • Damage generally involves only 1-2 birds
  • Most damage occurs February - June
    • corresponds to breeding season & territory establishment
  • Holes drilled into sides of wooden buildings
damage damage identification8
Damage & Damage Identification
  • Red-headed, red-bellied, downy, hairy, northern flicker, and pileated cause most problems
  • Yellow-bellied sapsucker problems on trees (“bird-peck” lowers tree quality)
  • Structural damage to wood siding, eaves, window frames, & trim boards ($300/incident)
  • Prefer stained or natural wood
  • Prefer cedar & redwood siding
legal status
Legal Status
  • Classified as migratory nongame
  • Protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act
  • Red-cockaded and ivory-billed protected under the Endangered Species Act
  • Non-endangered woodpeckers can only be killed via permit from USFWS upon recommendations of USDA Wildlife Services
damage prevention control
Damage Prevention & Control
  • Exclusion
    • Netting
      • Generally the most effective method
      • lightweight plastic netting (3/4 inch mesh)
      • hang from eave over damaged area
      • 3 inches of space between netting and building
      • hang past damage
      • (see page E-142 of manual)
damage prevention control11
Damage Prevention & Control
  • Exclusion
    • Metal barriers
      • metal or plastic sheeting over damaged area
      • can paint to match wood siding
      • 1/4 inch hardware cloth can be used
      • trees damaged by sapsuckers can be wrapped
        • 1/4 inch hardware cloth
        • plastic mesh
        • burlap
damage prevention control12
Damage Prevention & Control
  • Frightening Devices
    • Visual
      • Artificial hawks, owls, snakes, cats generally ineffective
      • Scare by movement or reflection --Toy plastic twirlers, windmills, aluminum foil or plastic strips, & pie pans limited effectiveness
      • Balloons with eyes limited effectiveness
      • Magnifying shaving mirrors
damage prevention control13
Damage Prevention & Control
  • Frightening Devices
    • Sound
      • Loud noises -- hand clapping, gunfire, garbage can lid banging, etc. If repeated over time may cause birds to leave
      • Propane (gas cannons) exploders
      • High frequency sound
damage prevention control14
Damage Prevention & Control
  • Repellents
    • Taste
      • Many tested, most ineffective & costly
    • Odor
      • Naphthalene, creosote, and others ineffective
    • Tactile
      • Sticky or tacky bird repellents (Tanglefoot,, 4-The-Birds, and Roost-No-More) may be effective
damage prevention control15
Damage Prevention & Control
  • Toxicants
    • Illegal as well as none are registered for use
  • Trapping
    • live trapping ineffective
    • lethal wooden-base rat snap traps baited with nut meats effective but must obtain a permit
  • Shooting
    • Requires permit and local ordinances issues
damage prevention control16
Damage Prevention & Control
  • Other Methods
    • Suet
      • Lure birds from damaged area
      • Lack of information
    • Nest boxes
      • Some success with northern flicker
    • Insecticides for indirect control
      • reduce food source, limited information, direct effect on birds (?)