British Columbia

With spring comes the menace of the woodpecker

March and April are the prime time for woodpeckers to be building nests in walls and drumming for a mate. However, a bird expert says homeowners have few options to stop the the busy, noisy birds.

Homeowners don't have many options when it comes to stopping woodpeckers drilling holes in walls

The pileated woodpecker can hollow out a tree and create a two-foot cavity. (Ann Nightingale)

They may be hungry, horny or busy building a nest for their young.

Those are some of the reasons woodpeckers might be pecking against the walls of your home in spring, according to Ann Nightingale, a bird expert who works with the Rocky Point Bird Observatory in Victoria.

Nightingale says woodpeckers are especially active in early spring so home owners shouldn't be surprised to hear drumming against their walls.

There are three main reason why woodpeckers peck," Nightingale said.

"One is to build a nest cavity in which case you are going to find a round hole in the wood. The other is to drum to attract females, especially on hollow substances like walls or hollow trees or bird boxes.

Damage done by a woodpecker at a Calgary seniors complex. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

"The third is to find food, and what they really want are ants. They can hear them crawling underneath the wood."

According to Nightingale, when the temperature climbs insects become more active.

The northern flicker woodpecker can drill holes in the sides of homes. (Caroline Csak)

"The insects are moving around a lot more and that makes them easier to detect."

If you suspect woodpeckers are trying to eat the insects in the walls, Nightingale says home owners first need to deal with their ant issue.

However, when it comes to stopping the birds from drumming against walls there aren't many options because woodpeckers are protected by the Migratory Birds Convention Act.

"You could put up flashing items," Nightingale suggests, "like CDs on a string or Mylar tape or some other physical barrier to keep them from the wall."

Homeowners should be consoled by the fact that the woodpecker drumming should ease up by the end of April.