Why do woodpeckers peck?
Most people would say because they’re looking for food, but the truth is that many of them don’t eat bugs.
As a group, woodpeckers are omnivores.
Although, some species eat mostly insects and other arthropods while others consume only plants and plant matter.
Why Woodpeckers Peck
So why do they peck?
Mostly because it’s how they communicate with other woodpeckers.
They also use their beaks to clean off insect nests, excavate holes for their homes, balance while climbing or hanging and defend themselves from predators.
The most common type of pecking is drumming.
Drumming is when a woodpecker rapidly pecks the trunk or limb of a tree in order to communicate with other woodpeckers.
Woodpeckers drum for two main reasons: when they’re attracting mates and when they’re warning others away from their territory.
Sometimes, these sounds can interrupt people who are trying to concentrate.
Drumming is a great way for woodpeckers to communicate with each other, but it’s not the only one.
These birds also use short calls and even a bit of body language to talk with each other.
They have a variety of different sounds that they make in addition to their pecking and drumming, including hisses, whistles, and grunts.
Female woodpeckers can attract males by drumming lightly on a hollow limb or trunk, which creates a sound like distant thunder that the females repeat throughout the mating season.
These resonant sounds travel through the woods so much more effectively than clear calls.
As the mating season progresses, you may notice a decrease in pecking activity.
Sometimes this drumming can be even heard in people’s homes, which is especially bothersome at night when the house amplifies the sound.
Pecking as a Form of Defense
Woodpeckers also use their beaks as a weapon against predators like snakes and squirrels.
They peck at the predator’s eyes and feet, which can discourage them enough so that the woodpecker can escape.
Some woodpeckers even use their beaks to throw things at potential threats, like acorns and bits of bark.
Different species of woodpeckers drum on different surfaces for communication.
However, they all prefer the trunks or large limbs of trees including mimosa, willow, elm, fruit trees, maple, black locust, catalpa, cherry, cottonwood, and sycamore.
Sometimes they will drum on utility poles, fence posts, and even the sides of houses!
One of the woodpeckers’ favorite places to make their nests is inside dead trees.
When they feel it’s time to settle down and start a family, they begin chiseling into the wood to prepare a home for themselves.
If you notice holes like this in or around your yard, it’s possible that there are baby woodpeckers inside of them!
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