Many species of woodpeckers are found in Georgia and vary in size and color. All woodpeckers are capable of damaging buildings.
Even though woodpeckers eat harmful bugs as a regular part of their diet, woodpeckers are commonly considered a nuisance pest because of the significant damage they can cause to a home’s siding, eaves, and insulation. However, woodpeckers are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act as “migratory, non-game birds”. Therefore, homeowners need a special permit to exterminate them.
Successful control is dependent upon early recognition of damage and immediate action. The longer corrective action is delayed, the more difficult it will be to stop the bird’s activity. First, a check for the presence of insects must be done since this food source may be the main attraction for woodpeckers. If insects are present, such as carpenter bees, an insect pest control program must be initiated.
Woodpeckers belong to the order Piciformes and the family Picidae, which also includes flickers and sapsuckers. Twenty-one species inhabit the United States. Woodpeckers have short legs with two sharp-clawed, backward-pointed toes and stiff tail feathers, which serve as a supportive prop. These physical traits enable them to cling easily to the trunks and branches of trees, wood siding, or utility poles while pecking. They have stout, sharply pointed beaks for pecking into wood and a specially developed long tongue that can be extended a considerable distance. The tongue is used to dislodge larvae or ants from their burrows in wood or bark.
Woodpeckers are an interesting and familiar group of birds. Their ability to peck into trees in search of food or excavate nest cavities is well known. They prefer snags or partially dead trees for nesting sites, and readily peck holes in trees and wood structures in search of insects beneath the surface. One common misconception is that they peck holes in buildings only in search of insects. While they do obtain insects by this means, many species will drill holes in sound dry wood of buildings, utility poles, and fence posts where few or no insects exist.
Woodpeckers are classified as migra- tory, nongame birds and are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis) and the ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus principalis) are on the Endangered Species list and are thus offered full protection. When warranted, woodpeckers other than the endangered species can be killed but only under a permit issued by the Law Enforcement Division of the US Fish and Wildlife Service upon recommendation of USDA-APHIS-Animal Damage Control personnel. Generally, there must be a good case to justify issuance of a permit.
Because of their legal status, it’s essential that with any woodpecker issue, a wildlife professional is consulted first. At Grade A Critter, we have years of experience dealing with woodpecker nuisances. We have the equipment & the know-how to properly prevent them from causing further damage to your home or property.
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