Woodpeckers are known for their hammering to establish territory, to find a mate, to evacuate a nesting hole or to find insects. The hammering is the cause of conflict with humans because they don’t distinguish between trees and buildings. While the hammering is audibly annoying, the results can be destructive and expensive. The most common types of woodpeckers to be found in Wisconsin are the Downy Woodpecker, the Hairy Woodpecker, and the Pileated Woodpecker.

Fast Facts

Color Coloration varies by species but most have various patterns of black and white bodies. To distinguish the sexes, most males have a red patch on their head. The downy and hairy woodpeckers tend to have bright white chests, whereas the pileated woodpecker does not include the white chest.
Size They are 5-15″ long and weigh between 0.7-1.0 oz. Their wingspan is 10-30″.
Appearance Common woodpeckers have a straight and strong, chisel-like bill, blocky head, wide shoulders, and straight-backed posture as they lean away from tree limbs and onto their tail feathers.


Feeds on a variety of insects, especially beetles, ants, caterpillars, and more. They are also fond of black oil sunflower seeds, millet, peanuts, and chunky peanut butter. Occasionally, downy woodpeckers will drink from oriole and hummingbird feeders as well.

Woodpecker - Bird prevention, control, and removal services by Batzner Pest Control in Wisconsin

Habitat & Nesting

Woodpeckers usually peck at dead or diseased trees/limbs, but they have also been known to peck at buildings, siding, metal and air conditioners. They peck in order to find food, excavate areas for nesting, or create room for food storage. They are found mostly in or on the edge of wooded areas due to food prevalence and preference for living in or near trees. They can nest in structures, fences, poles, and sign posts. A cavity is created by the male and female to make a nest in dead limb or dead tree, usually 12-30′ above ground. The cavity entrance is often surrounded by fungus or lichen, helping to camouflage site.

Mating & Life Cycle

These birds can have one or two broods per year, each with three to six young. White eggs are laid and incubation is done by both sexes for about 12 days. Both parents bring insects to feed the nestlings. The young leave the nest about 20-25 days after hatching, but may follow the parents around for a few weeks.


Damage caused by woodpeckers in structures can range from holes in wood to damaged siding and air conditioning units, making woodpecker management vital. Woodpeckers usually hammer on wood surfaces for one of three reasons:

  • It makes a satisfyingly loud noise that proclaims the bird’s territory
  • The bird wants to excavate a nest or roost hole
  • It is feeding on insects living in the siding

Prevention & Control

Woodpecker Prevention

Woodpecker prevention is based upon physical barriers and scare techniques. Physical barriers created in pecking areas will help get rid of woodpeckers by preventing entry. Commonly these are made of steel mesh. Noise scare techniques are also effective in some cases. Remember, woodpeckers are protected and any prevention or woodpecker control is subject to compliance with federal law.

Woodpecker Control

Bird Control Services provide customized solutions to address bird concerns through removal, exclusion and deterrence. Factors which determine the best method of control include: area of application, bird species, location, access. Spikes, netting and electrical deterrents are the most commonly used solutions.

If issues with woodpeckers arise, count on a professional pest management service to take care of the problem knowledgeably and successfully. Bird services are limited to commercial clients.