Woodpeckers - Pest Control Approved
Posted 10/14/2020 in Birds by Pest Control Approved

Woodpeckers


Woodpeckers

Woodpeckers

Woodpeckers are found in most countries except for Australia, New Guinea, Zealand, and Madagascar. There are over 250 species worldwide. Most woodpeckers live in or around woodlands and forests. They forage for insects in and on the trees. Woodpeckers get their name their habit of drumming on trees. They drum to communicate and find food.

NAME: Picidae

LOCATION: North America, Cuba, Central America

HABITAT: Woodlands

DIET: Insectivore

SIZE: Various 

PREDATORS: Coyotes, foxes, domestic animals, snakes

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 6 years

 

Size 

Woodpeckers vary in size depending on the species. The smallest woodpecker is around 7 centimeters long; the largest is about 50 centimeters long. The Flicker, Canada’s most common woodpecker, is between 28 and 36 cm long with a 42-54 cm wingspan. It weighs between 86 and 167 grams. The larger species of woodpecker are found further North in Alaska, and Northern Canada.


Appearance 

Woodpeckers vary in size and coloration depending on their location. They are sexual dimorphic although the differences are small. Most woodpeckers have an olive or brown base with a raised crest or tufts on their head. Many have prominent red crests. Their coloration can also depend on food availability as nestlings. North American woodpeckers have red or yellow on their wings. All species have three forward facing toes and one backwards facing toe. These toes help them hold onto and climb trees. They also have strong bills and long tongues for drilling into trees and collecting bugs or sap.

The Northern Flicker is frequently seen in the prairies. It is brown with black bars on its wings and back. It has a black patch around its neck and upper breast. The belly is beige with black spots. Males have a red or black stripe around the base of their beak. Both males and females have a dark tail and white rump that are easily visible when they are in flight.


Diet

Woodpecker birds are primarily insectivores. They often consume ants and beetles that dwell underground or in tree bark. Their hard bill allows them to drill through trees and dirt to reach ants and other bug larva. Their long tongue also helps them reach these insects and tree nectar. They also consume fruits, berries, and seeds, especially in winter. They can eat plants that are irritants to humans such as poison oak, ivy, and sumac. Some kinds of woodpeckers eat crustaceans or even carrion.

In urban environments, they are attracted by suet, nuts, and jelly. They sometimes eat kitchen scraps but not as often as other urban birds.


Habitat 

Woodpeckers have different habitats depending on the species and their geographic location. Nonetheless, they prefer open areas near trees such as woods, savannahs, and scrublands. A few species in the desert use cacti instead of trees. They also inhabit yards and parks, sometimes pecking holes into brick buildings. Most species of woodpecker build their nests in tree cavities but a few nest in the earth. In Canada, woodpeckers often migrate to the United States in winter.


Reproduction

Most North America woodpeckers breed in the forest. Many species build their own nests but a few reuse old bird’s nets. They occasionally use birdhouses but do not prefer them. Woodpecker eggs, particularly Flicker eggs are pure white, smooth, and glossy. The size of the eggs varies between species. Flickers lay the second largest woodpecker eggs. In general, woodpeckers lay six to eight eggs per brood. Incubation is 11 to 14 days and the hatchlings take 25 to 28 days to mature.


Predators 

Like many birds, young woodpeckers have a high mortality rate. They are predated on by snakes, racoons, and squirrels. The squirrels primarily attack the eggs while snakes and racoons will kill both the eggs and the young. In western Canada, snakes are not common predators of woodpeckers.

Larger animals such as bobcats and coyotes are a bigger threat in the prairies. They can attack not only the young but the adult woodpeckers. Woodpeckers are difficult to catch, but bobcats in particular are agile and sometimes catch them in flight. Since flickers primarily feed on the ground, they are easier prey than tree-feeding woodpeckers. 

 

Lifespan

The lifespan of woodpeckers varies depending on location and species. They live from four to twelve years. Some species have a higher mortality rate due to hatchling mortality. The oldest known flicker is nine years old. On average, woodpeckers live six years

If you require bird control, browse our list of trained professionals in your area today!