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Have you found many holes in the trees? One of the reasons for such holes in the trees is that it is the woodpecker nest. 

Woodpeckers are known for their habit of making holes in trees. They are some of the most interesting birds in the world also because of their distinctive woodpecker sound. An interesting fact is that woodpeckers make their unique tapping sound from 8,000 to 12,000 times a day. 

In this article, you will find out everything you need to know about woodpecker nests including how they make them, what they look like, and where you will find them. 

The woodpecker nest

woodpecker pecking a hole in the tree

Usually, we know that many other birds make their nest in the open area. But it is different with the woodpecker nest as it will not be out in the open. They are built and used inside the hollows of dead trees. 

They use dead trees because they find it easier to hammer into and they are less likely to attract predators and other animals. 

The woodpecker nest is a circular hole and it will typically sit around a foot deep into the cavity. It is quite small, only about an inch or so in diameter. Around the edges, the hole will be smooth and will often have wood shavings or chips near it. 

The depth of the hole depends on how deep the woodpecker pecks. Some woodpeckers will only peck the surface of the tree, while others will peck all the way through to the wood beneath the bark.

For example, pileated woodpeckers are some of the largest woodpeckers in North America and can be found in forests throughout the eastern United States, they will make a hole that is about 4 to 5 inches deep while a red-bellied woodpecker will make a shallow hole. 

You need to look inside the drilled holes of a dead or dying tree to find out the woodpecker nest. It would have a soft single chamber with a warm floor of bark chips and other materials. 

Where do woodpeckers make their nest? 

Decaying hollow trees or stumps are preferred by woodpeckers to carve out and place their nests because they are usually the ones with softwood. Woodpeckers choose them considering the space and insulation for their eggs. So they choose solid, thick-barked, hollowed trees to give them the right amount of space for raising and incubating the eggs, especially trees with softer wood are mostly preferred.

Oak trees, birches, pines, maples, sweet gums, fruit trees, and cottonwoods are some of the few trees woodpeckers choose as their nests. Also, they find dead woods and stumps to easily peck into. The nesting normally only lasts up to a month for woodpecker young and these birds will only ever use the shells of trees for short periods. 

How woodpecker nests are made?

Woodpeckers make their nest by repeatedly pecking into the wood of the hollow trees they prefer. Both the male and female species make the nests. Different woodpeckers make nests of different shapes such as oval, round, and gourd shape. 

The inside of their nests will be lined with materials they are likely to come across while pecking. The length of time it takes the woodpeckers to make their nests depends on the size of the hole they are drilling and the type of wood they are pecking into. 

The stronger the tree, the longer it will take them to make the woodpecker nest. And this is why they favor dead trees as it would be easier to get into the wood. 

How to find a woodpecker hole? 

To find out whether it is the woodpecker hole, there are a few other things to look at. You need to take a look at where the hole is located on the tree. If it is located near the top of the tree, on the trunk, or near branches, then it is most probably the hole made by the woodpecker. 

Woodpeckers usually make the hole if there are small pieces of bark or wood chips around the hole. They are usually about the size of a pencil eraser and are left behind when the woodpecker is pecking. 

If you take a look at the hole itself, it would be a perfect round or oval, if so it is made by a woodpecker. But if you find holes that have rough edges or are jagged are not typically made by woodpeckers. 

Why do woodpeckers Peck holes?

You might think that woodpeckers peck holes as their woodpecker nests. But there are a few different reasons why woodpeckers peck holes.

Woodpeckers make it to find food using their beaks to peck into the tree bark to find insects or grubs. 

For example, the Pileated Woodpeckers’ diet consists of Carpenter ants and beetle larvae. They also eat berries and nuts. They will leave long gashes along the tree while going after carpenter ants and they typically find these insects in decaying trees and logs. 

Woodpecker nest and different species

These insects can be difficult to find and this is why the woodpecker peck many holes in the tree to find them. With its sticky, barbed, long tongue, the bird can reach the insects deep inside the decaying wood.

Still, the scientists are not positive on how exactly a woodpecker knows which trees are infested with the insects they prefer to eat. It is said that woodpeckers hear movement inside a tree. 

Woodpeckers are interested in the larval form of insects, so they will look for whatever holes or crevices the bugs used to get into the tree in the first place. Then they will use their tapping skills to find the hollow parts of a tree, where the larvae are most likely entrenched.

Another reason that woodpeckers peck holes are for communication. They use to make a drumming sound by tapping rapidly their beaks on the tree. And so they make holes in the trees. They use this drumming sound to communicate with other woodpeckers or to attract mates. 

Sometimes Downy woodpeckers use this sound to warn others away from their territory. 

Some woodpeckers will pecks holes in trees to create nesting cavities. These cavities can be used to raise their young and can be reused year after year. Meanwhile, some do it because they enjoy it. With their strong beaks and love to use them to peck at things. 

What is inside a woodpecker’s Holes? 

Woodpeckers are cavity-nesting birds. Woodpecker nests are built inside the holes in trees. It is typically round or oval in shape and would be just big enough for the bird to fit inside. It would be lined with soft materials such as wood chips, leaves, and feathers.

This is because these materials will help to keep the eggs and young chicks warm and protected. There will be a number of eggs laid by a woodpecker and it varies depending on the species and it would usually be between four and eight. 

Once they hatch, the young chicks will stay there for several weeks before they are big enough to leave. The parents will take turns incubating the eggs and feeding the chicks. Once they are ready to leave the nest, they will begin to explore the surroundings and learn how to find food on their own. 

There are some species of woodpeckers will even use man-made nesting boxes.

Do woodpecker holes harm the tree?

Woodpecker species

Woodpeckers are recognized for their ability to drill many holes into trees.  What happened to the trees if they do it repeatedly?

Woodpeckers usually create small holes so that there is less possibility to cause serious damage to the tree. And many birds and animals use these holes for nesting and roosting.  But if a woodpecker repeatedly pecks the same hole, it can eventually weaken the tree. 

It can make the tree more susceptible to breaking or causing disease. And if the Woodpecker pecks too close to the trunk of the tree,  it can damage the bark, and the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients will affect it. 

Although woodpeckers are generally harmless to trees,  you need to keep an eye on any holes that are created.  If you find it becoming larger,  you need to prevent it from happening.

How to fix a woodpecker hole? 

When it comes to where woodpeckers peck, they are pretty indiscriminate. These birds will peck anything that strikes, no matter whether it is your ornamental tree, home siding, or brand-new fence. 

The holes they make might not be aesthetically pleasing, but they may not beg and usually don’t cause any lasting damage to the tree or structure. But if you are concerned about the hole, there are a few things you can do to fix it. 

You can cover the hole using a piece of tape or putty. This will conceal as well as deter the woodpecker from pecking more holes in the same spot. Or else you can fill the hole with a substance that will harden over time. This will fill the hole and make it more difficult for the woodpecker to peck. 

To prevent woodpeckers from pecking holes in the trees,  you can cover the area with chicken wire or another type of fencing. This will also help to protect the tree from further damage.  Another option is to use bird deterrents like scarecrows or noisemakers which will make the area less appealing to birds and may cause a woodpecker to find a new place.

Instead of curing it is better to prevent it. 

For how long do they stay in the nest?

For about 3 weeks, the young woodpeckers stay in their nests after hatching, and then the parents will chase them away from the nest. Meanwhile, the adult woodpeckers would stay in their nest for their roosting period and leave shortly after.

Some woodpecker species have been known to return to their very same nest year after year as they find it a good spot. Sometimes you may recognize it as a woodpecker nest but find some other birds. This may be because woodpecker nests can be taken over by other birds and leave them to have their home somewhere else.

While other woodpecker species change their location naturally every year. Although the woodpecker nest is generally for a short period of time, the hollowed trees normally give them the space and warmth they need. 

Woodpecker species and their habits

Woodpecker diet

Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpeckers usually groups choose a granary tree and drill holes to store acorns. A single granary tree can sometimes hold up to 50,000 acorns.

Downy Woodpeckers

In the United States, these are the smallest woodpeckers. To reach food sources, they use to take advantage of their size which is inaccessible to other woodpeckers, including insects living in weeds.

American Three-toed Woodpecker

This bird has one toe less than most woodpeckers. This trait is believed to allow it to lean further away from trees while delivering more forceful strikes.

Black-backed Woodpecker

These birds thrive in burned forests where they harvest wood-boring beetle larvae. Their black plumage serves as excellent camouflage in the charred areas they prefer. 

Gila Woodpecker

Gila woodpecker is different from other woodpeckers as they do not nest in dead trees, instead prefer to raise their young in cavities within living saguaro cacti. 

Pileated Woodpecker

The Pileated Woodpecker is the largest woodpecker in North America. Its massive excavations sometimes cause smaller trees to break in half.

Red-cockaded Woodpecker

This is one of the birds to excavate cavities in living, green wood. They live in mature longleaf pine stands with little understory as family groups. 

Final thoughts

Woodpeckers are interesting birds with unique habits. They do work tirelessly to provide for their young. The woodpecker nests may not be very pretty but they are a part of nature providing homes for other animals. 

Although they can be a nuisance, generally they are harmless to the tree. If you find them make larger holes, then it is better to do a few things to fix and prevent them from causing harm to the trees. 

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