How to Stop Woodpeckers from Drumming

Posted by Nancy on 7/31/2013 to Learn More About Birds

Question:  I have recently installed a new metal flagpole and now have a woodpecker that has figured out how to land on the pulley and pound on the flagpole itself.  Why would he do this?

Answer:   The behavior you are describing is called drumming.  Woodpeckers do this for two reasons.  One is to attract a mate and the other is to establish a territory.  Your woodpecker has taken advantage of the resonance of the flagpole to broadcast his message to a larger territory.  I know of no foolproof way to stop this.  Tying streamers to the flagpole may help, but seems to be effective only 50% of the time.  I have also been told that covering the area with burlap will dull the sound and perhaps encourage the woodpecker to move on.  The last method I can suggest would be to play the call of a bird eating hawk that lives in your area when you hear the woodpecker drumming.  Bird eating hawks would be in the Accipiter family.  They are the Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk and the Northern Goshawk.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers also have an easily recognized drum.  They start with a great drum roll (Ringo Star would be jealous), pause then adds some slower beats.  A neighboring sapsucker may start his drum roll during the pause. Thus territories are established and neighbors recognized.  Different woodpecker species have a different rhythm to their drumming. Pileated Woodpeckers drum very rapidly approximately 15 times per second with a burst of speed at the end of each rotation.  They also have a form of commutation with a double tap near a prospective nesting site.  They also use a specific series of taps from within the nest cavity to communicate with their mate.

Learn more by reading Attracting More Birds at a Glance.”

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