Do Woodpeckers Peck During the Nighttime?

Do woodpeckers peck at Night header

The short answer is no. The longer answer is… well, usually not.

During the day, woodpeckers absolutely love to peck at anything that they can get their beaks into.

However, that noise you’re hearing outside at night probably isn’t a woodpecker.

Woodpeckers are known as “diurnal” creatures.

Basically -woodpeckers are awake during the daytime, asleep during the nighttime and do not peck at night.

Similar to humans, the sleep/wake cycle of a woodpecker follows the pattern of light.

So, it’s kind of unlikely to have a pecking woodpecker in the middle of the night, but if you keep waking up to what sound’s like a woodpecker in the middle of the night, keep on reading to find out more!

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Why Woodpeckers Don’t Make Noise During the Nighttime

Woodpeckers love to sleep – they thrive off of it actually. The birds absolutely need to sleep in order to function.

Sound like another species you know?

Yes, woodpeckers are diurnal, just like humans, dogs, cats, squirrels, and many other creatures.

Woodpeckers are active during the day but asleep during the night.

The main reason that you’ve found this page could be that you’re hearing a sort of “drilling, drumming or pecking” noise outside of your house late at night.

While yes, this COULD be a woodpecker – it most likely isn’t if it’s pitch black outside.

Woodpeckers Are Very Active During The day

And the truth is – in the months where it gets light out really early – you may find that woodpecker is pecking at 4:30 AM in the morning!

Generally, woodpeckers are heard around our property during the day and not at night during the early spring season.

Woodpeckers often like to peck, drum or drill on wooden materials.

This starts with trees but also includes your house if you have wood siding.

If you have metal siding, smart woodpeckers will often prefer this type of material over everything due to the metal making a louder noise when they drill at it.

If you find it’s the roosting spot, just remember that it is illegal to harm, injure or capture a woodpecker in any way.

How To Keep Woodpeckers From Drilling on Your Home During Day or Night

Pileated crested woodpecker bird with beak and feathers

One way to prevent woodpeckers from pecking, drilling or drumming on your house in to place a sonic bird repeller on or near your home.

A sonic bird repeller is a small box that mimics the sound and noises of predatory animals to help scare off different types of animals from your property.

When animals such as woodpeckers hear the noise of a predator, they’re incredibly likely to stay away from the area.

These types of sonic bird repellers are useful because they can help to protect your home in the early morning and late-night when woodpeckers might still be active as well.

Many of these bird repellers are used by schools to keep pigeons and geese from landing on their sports fields.

Generally, they play the bird noises over there PA systems on the team fields and that seems to do the trick.

Unfortunately, many of us don’t have the luxury of an elaborate (and expensive) PA system outside of our homes.

The BirdXPeller Works Great

One deterrent that I’ve heard some great things about is the BirdXPeller that is explicitly made for woodpeckers (and evidently sparrows).

Basically, it’s a small box that you place outside of your home (or on your favorite oak tree) to deter woodpeckers from wanting to peck in that area.

The system will play sounds that woodpeckers dislike and in turn, this will keep them away from your target area.

By any means, you don’t have to go by my recommendation but I would advise that you do some research here and think about getting a similar sound repeller to help protect your home.

If you have the budget for this, I’d recommend giving it a go and see for yourself as the sound the device makes will cover you during the early nighttime and late to early morning hours when there is sunlight out for woodpeckers to be awake.

Again, do some research like I have and try to find a similar woodpecker noise repeller if you aren’t interested in that one. Please do not let woodpeckers make the side of your house look like swiss cheese.

Bird Repellent Tape Works Amazing

Another AMAZING (and cheaper) way to keep woodpeckers away from a particular spot, especially your house, is to invest in Bird Repellent Tape.

Since woodpeckers are very unlikely to be awake during the night, bird repellent tape can be a cheap and effective way to keep woodpeckers away from an area.

Bird repellent tape is a form of shiny tape that reflects off of the sun and presents a blinding light to birds as they approach the tape.

It waves in the wind and makes it VERY tough for birds to see where the heck they’re going to land.

I talk more about the uses of reflective bird tape in my article about keeping geese off your property.

Essentially, you’ll use the same methods outlined in that article except you’ll place the reflective bird tape on your house.

Unless you’ve been having a nighttime woodpecker problem for a while, I would recommend going with the bird tape and THEN attempting to try out the BirdXPeller or any similar sound system as a last resort.

Where do Woodpeckers Sleep at Night?

Where the woodpecker roosts at night depends on the species, but most species will sleep in a dark hole or shallow breeding cavity.

Peckers will typically find one cavity they like at the beginning of breeding season (late winter) and will stay in this cavity if they can.

Now, it is essential to note that these cavities are not restricted to trees.

Woodpeckers typically look for out cavities with a hard outer covering and inner center which they can excavate easier using their bill.

Dead or dying trees are a good target for them. Not only are dying trees a great place to roost, but they also make an excellent spot for potential prey. The softer wood is more natural for peckers to dig. Woodpeckers roost can roost in both pine and cedarwood siding.

If you’re looking for a roosting cavity to help spot a woodpecker habitat, look for a hole that is round or rectangular and about the same size as a woodpecker’s body.

These cavities will be larger than the holes created for food foraging.

Once a woodpecker has found its home of choice, it can be challenging to get it to leave the habitat.

Woodpeckers Drill and Drum

Illustrate woodpecker holes in tree

Woodpeckers have unique anatomy which allows them to hit their bills against objects without harming themselves.

This is how their characteristic tapping noises are produced. Woodpeckers have thick heads with strong neck muscles and tough, hard bills.

There are actually two types of noises that woodpeckers make – “drilling” and “drumming.”

Drilling is precisely what you would think – the woodpecker is literally forming holes in wood to find insects or even form nests.

Drumming (also called tapping) is a form of communication between woodpeckers and is typically used for mating or territorial disputes.

Drilling is a type of noise that is usually kept to the nesting season (late winter – early spring) and is more common in the mornings.

You can sometimes tell which type of noise this is based on the regularity of the “taps.”

Drilling is typically more irregular as the bird hunts for food, while drumming is quicker and more rhythmic as the suave mating ritual commences.

Unlike other birds, woodpeckers do not have a standard musical song as their form of communication.

While woodpecker noise does not typically happen at night, drilling is more likely than drumming to occur, because they don’t have to communicate as often with other peckers when they are all asleep for the night.

Log With Larva Holes

The only real time that drilling may occur at night is if the pecker needs a late-night snack.

For instance, if they’re finding that larva and insects are inside of a tree, they may drill into the tree to try and pick them out.

More often or not, the woodpecker won’t be drilling or pecking during the night due to their sleep schedule.

Woodpeckers Love Wood

You guessed it – the material that woodpeckers love the most is – Wood, wood, wood, wood! This is the absolute favorite materials for woodpeckers to “peck” on

I mean, why else would they be called WOODpeckers?

While we discussed that softwood is the material of choice for woodpeckers, there are other materials they may choose to peck.

Any material that contains insects may be pecked – even metal objects.

Woodpeckers can damage certain materials if they are not deterred from pecking on them.

The worst damage is usually seen in wooden house siding. This is typical because wood siding can get soft and end up containing food if not adequately maintained.

During the winter, insects will hibernate in the siding, and the woodpecker must drill into the wood in order to eat its dinner.

Other materials that woodpeckers can cause damage to include man-made objects like window frames, roofs, and gutters.

Additionally, old, dark crevices in wooden sheds or buildings are a favorite drilling place.

Woodpeckers even have the ability to go for cables and TV antennas that have been ruined.

While not as delicious as insects, but peckers will also eat berries and nuts. This can ruin people’s gardens as well as take away the food supply for other animals in the area.

The Best Ways To Minimize Woodpecker Damage

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) in the bird feeder.

I touched earlier upon using a bird repellent sound system and the use of bird tape works well too, in fact we have an entire article dedicated to the best pest control products you can use, if you’d like to take a look at that as well!

Here are Some More steps to getting rid of woodpeckers:

  1. Get rid of any grub or larva type insects around your home
  2. Place a soft material over your metal or wood siding to deter woodpeckers
  3. Use reflective surfaces to make it difficult for woodpeckers land near your property
  4. Remove dying trees from the area as they contain food for the woodpecker
  5. Use Scent That Woodpeckers hate to repel them!

1. Get rid of any grub or larva type insects around your home

The first way is to destroy the woodpecker’s dinner (get rid of insects in your home). Without food, woodpeckers will have less incentive to drill.

If you have an area that peckers keep drilling, look out for insect infestations like termites or carpenter bees.

For example, if you have carpenter bees nesting into your wooden siding, you can prevent woodpecker drilling by removing the nests with the appropriate insecticide. You can also physically remove insect nests from your home (carefully), but this is not recommended.

Just make sure you don’t see any larvae crawling around in your siding and you should be in good shape.

2. Place a soft material over your metal or wood siding to deter woodpeckers

Bright Object to Deter Woodpeckers

The second way is to utilize a material that woodpeckers will not want to drill and place that over your siding.

If you have soft wooden siding, you can cover it with metal or even completely replace it.

For instance, if you have an old wooden shed which some peckers have taken a liking to – try replacing the softened wood with aluminum to remove the issue altogether.

3. Use reflective surfaces to make it difficult for woodpeckers land near your property

A third way of minimizing damage is to deter the woodpeckers from the area by using reflective surfaces or loud noises.

We touched upon this earlier with the bird repellent tape – as the reflective surfaces blind the woodpeckers while they are trying to land at a perspective food spot.

The light from mirrors or bird-repelling tape can drive these woodpeckers away.

Wind chimes can also work to deter woodpeckers as they dislike the loud noise.

However, I also dislike the sound, so I prefer not to put them up.

4. Remove dying trees from the area as they contain food for the woodpecker

Lastly, a fourth way of deterring woodpeckers is to remove dying trees from your property as quickly as possible.

Unlively trees will be more likely to have insects and larva in them, which is just a meal waiting to happen for a woodpecker.

If there are only one or two trees that fit the criteria on your property, then look into calling a tree cutting service to take care of them for you.

You can also provide an alternative roosting area for the woodpeckers by using wooden birdhouses. There are plenty available online which are targeted for different species. If you’re looking for a fun, useful project to do with your kids, you could try building your own birdhouse.

If the noise woodpeckers make is your primary concern and its less about the drilling, removing resonant objects from the yard may diminish the volume and frequency of drumming.

Any hollow trees or metal objects that could be targeted by peckers for drumming.

Basically, anything that looks like it may be an effective instrument could be a source of noise for woodpeckers.

5. Use Scent That Woodpeckers Hate

Easily one of our favorite way to deter woodpeckers is to use the scents they hate, and stategically!

For more details please head over to our article to find out just exactly how to use scent!

Scents like cinnamon, rosemary or lavender – work like a charm!

That’s A Wrap!

All in all, if you’ve been hearing woodpeckers at night, as unlikely as it is – it may just mean that you have 1 too many woodpeckers in your outdoor space!

If that’s the case make sure to follow our steps to get rid of them effectively and safely, and we always suggest that if you are unsure of what measures to take – to contact a local professional as soon as possible!

How to pest proof your home in under a day e-book by Zack DeAngelis

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