You hear ‘em every year at this time. The Downey woodpecker–drumming away his love song on the most resonant item he can find, usually on our eaves troths, chimney caps, and sides of the houses.
People often mistake this rapid drumming as the woodpecker looking for food, envisioning huge gaping holes all over the wood siding of their home. But, if you ever observe the Downey Woodpecker looking for a tasty insect grub, their search is slower, and more probing in manner.
Usually when we think of bird sounds, we often think initially of bird songs. Drumming is actually another way of communication. It identifies the chosen territory, and is an important part of the Downey’s courtship display.
However, if you do notice holes about your home, chances are Woodpeckers are probing for insects. The experts tell us that the Woodpecker wouldn’t expend the energy to excavate the siding of your home unless insects were present. To rid your home of this activity you need to create a deterrent. Try hanging pie plates or colorful wind socks in the area. A customer told us that if you slap the inside wall loudly, it will scare the woodpecker from returning to that area, and we have experienced that if your offer an alternate food source like suet at your feeding areas this may lure them away. A product called Ropel has also been somewhat effective. A natural insecticide would be your last choice. J.J. Cardinal has learned recently that the Downy woodpecker will excavate holes in siding not only to look for food but to also excavate roosting sites. Downy woodpeckers excavate holes year round, and because they are timid, if another species shows interest in the site the Downy will move to another location and start all over again.