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Woodpeckers In Northern Virginia

Information about woodpeckers

Woodpeckers are a species of birds known for drilling into trees and foraging for food under the tree bark. There are 180 known species of woodpeckers and eight species of woodpeckers in Northern Virginia and one of them is rare and endangered. The eight species are Red-Cockaded Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flickers, Pileated Woodpecker, Red-Headed Woodpecker, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, and Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers. The endangered species is the Red-Cockaded and was added to the endangered species list in 1970. Woodpeckers vary in color based on the species, but most tend to be black and white with red plumages. Small woodpeckers are about 2.8 inches and 0.25 ounces while larger woodpeckers can measure up to 20 inches in length and can weigh as much as 12.7-19.9 ounces. 

They have sharp, pointed beaks and long tongues. Woodpeckers eat a variety of things such as insects and larvae, fruits, bird’s eggs, small animals and carrion, tree sap and scraps of human food. Woodpeckers drum on metal and wood because they are firstly trying to find food in the trees, second, they’re trying to create a nest and a place to store their food and thirdly, they are trying to communicate with other woodpeckers, by claiming their territory or trying to attract a mate. Woodpeckers are somewhat solitary creatures for the most part and will spend most of their lives by themselves or just small social groups, they do however stay with their young and raise them with the help of their mate.

What are some signs of woodpeckers on your property?

The first sign that you have a woodpecker problem is hearing them pecking at trees or other wooden surfaces. Another sign is seeing an excess amount of bird feces on your property. Most woodpeckers are not migratory birds and will stay in the same area the whole year. The Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker and Flicker woodpecker are the only two out of the eight woodpeckers that migrate. If a woodpecker is not properly removed, it can potentially make your property its permanent resident. Seeing woodpecker damage is another sign that there is a woodpecker around. Another sign is seeing their nest or roost, although sometimes that can be difficult. They can nest up to two feet inside trees and they lay their eggs in the spring. 

What damage can woodpeckers cause?

The main damage woodpeckers cause is structural damage. Woodpeckers will make holes in wooden surfaces and can cause problems for homes and their owners. In addition to damage to homes, woodpeckers can spread diseases through their feces. Some diseases connected to woodpeckers are histoplasmosis, West Nile Virus, Salmonella and E-coli as well as parasites. Woodpeckers won’t bite or harm people and their saliva isn’t known to carry infectious diseases. Woodpeckers will also damage crops such as fruits and nut trees which can lead to orchards and fruit farms closing. Damage can also be classified as nuisance noise such as the drumming behavior described earlier. Drumming can wake residents up early in the morning and can get quite loud as they establish territories. They will drum on chimney caps, gutters, attic fan vents or anything on a structure that will resound.

How to deal with woodpeckers?

The first step to address your woodpecker situation is to have an inspection of your property down to see exactly where the woodpecker is and to assess the damage and see what is the best method for removal or abatement. The property should also be inspected for a pest control problem, because that is what’s most likely drawing the woodpecker or woodpeckers to the property. Once a professional wildlife removal expert determines there is indeed a woodpecker problem, they will move forward with the appropriate treatment. In Virginia, there are some laws that need to be abided by in regard to woodpeckers. Woodpeckers are a federally protected species under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and are therefore not permitted to be harmed, hunted or otherwise maltreated. Trapping, killing, poisoning and destroying eggs and nests of woodpeckers is illegal and punishable by law. Woodpeckers are known as a nuisance animal, they don’t cause any significant threat to humans. In addition to the Virginia laws, there are federal laws for woodpeckers. It is illegal to possess, sell, deliver, carry, transport or ship woodpeckers.

Woodpecker control in Northern Virginia

With all of the laws associated with woodpeckers, it is one of the more challenging species of birds to get to leave homes. The best way to get woodpeckers to leave a place is to deter them or make it so they don’t want to stay around. This is typically done by trying to scare the woodpeckers. Some common woodpecker deterrents are sound and flashy objects. Woodpeckers are easily scared and some common frightening devices are hawks, owls, snake and cat-shaped shiny signs. Another alternative is to use sounds such as clapping or banging on trash cans. Some other ways are tactile such as sticky or tacky bird repellents. Exclusion is one of the most effective methods for woodpecker control. Exclusion is when someone installs a barrier or device that works to prevent the animal from gaining entry somewhere. For example, bird netting or a bird guard to prevent the woodpecker from destroying siding.

Woodpecker prevention in Fairfax, VA

To ensure that woodpeckers don’t come back after you’re able to get them to go away, you’ll need to maintain your property. Continue pest control treatments and get repairs done to your property so things don’t worsen. Woodpecker damage can often be costly, but it is important to get it fixed because it will be more expensive as time goes on. Woodpeckers can be prevented by maintaining the property, keeping trees trimmed away from homes, treating food sources such as beetles, carpenter ants, etc.

Why should I call a professional?

Due to the fact that these birds are federally and locally protected, prevention and control is best left up to a trained professional to ensure they aren’t accidentally harmed or even killed. At Summit, we can solve your animal removalpest control and repair needs. If you hire a professional they will make suggestions for the damages and a company like ours will be able to fix them for you if you decide. Pest control and wildlife removal companies have special permits which allow them to do things that ordinary people aren’t permitted to do, such as trapping. While trapping for woodpeckers rarely works, there are other alternative methods that have proven to be more successful in years past. 

For more information about our woodpecker deterrent programs or to schedule a free estimate for woodpecker solutions in Fredericksburg, Fairfax, Alexandria or Arlington, VA, contact us today.

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