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. This means that 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.

Woodpeckers are similar to humans because we are both diurnal creatures. Just like us, woodpeckers choose to be quiet at night and commence their activities during the day. Occasionally, there is a pesky next-door neighbor woodpecker who just MUST make loud noises at 3 a.m. for no real reason (and hopefully isn’t drilling on your house)

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.

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

However, the time of night that you hear the noise could actually lead the drumming or pecking noise to be a woodpecker.

For instance, if it’s 4:45 a.m. and the sun is just barely starting to rise, a woodpecker might awaken and start making noise exceptionally early in the morning (especially during mating season).

Woodpecker Rotted Tree

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

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, geese and 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.

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 are interested, you can check out current prices for the BirdXPeller here.

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.

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.

The only real downfall to reflective bird tape is that is HAS to be sunny out or else there is nothing that can be reflected off of the tape.

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.

However, if you’ve been dealing with woodpeckers for quite some time, then go ahead and try out a sonic bird repellent system.

To tie this back together, woodpeckers DO NOT peck during hours of pure darkness because this is when woodpeckers primarily are asleep.

During sundown, woodpeckers may still be likely to peck, just as long as there is still light outside. Additionally, woodpeckers may start to peck, drill, or drum during the first break of sunlight that they see in the morning.

Basically, woodpeckers can be active during any time of day where there IS light present, but will most likely be asleep whenever there ISN’T light present.

In addition to the Woodpecker sound repellent and the bird repellent tape, I write about a few natural ways to keep woodpeckers away at the end of this article. Scroll down if you’re looking for that as well.

Where do Woodpeckers Sleep at Night?

No, they do not have a waterbed on the floor like your neighbor. 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.

Why do Woodpeckers Make Noise in the First Place?

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.

Birds will tweet or whistle, while woodpeckers will drill and drum.

In totality, drumming is the banter of the woodpecker world. Large peckers will try to make lower, more loud noises on big objects to show how desirable they are for good mates and to establish their territory.

Peckers can drum on mostly any resonant object, but typically choose hardwood for the best effect. Drumming is not limited to only male woodpeckers– Momma Woodpecker might be attracting a mate as well!

Some woodpecker species have found that drumming is more effective on metal surfaces. Woodpeckers generally like to be the LOUDEST THEY POSSIBLY CAN BE.

The louder the volume of noise they can make, the more likely it is that the woodpecker will be able to attract a mate because of dominance.

During the daytime, a woodpecker can make noise upwards of 12,000 times per day while on the hunt for insects and larvae. If you have yummy critters inside of your house or shed, peckers will, unfortunately, try to dig holes into the wood to find these treats.

While woodpecker noise does not typically happen at night, drilling is more likely than drumming to occur. There is little point to communicate 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.

What Materials do Woodpeckers Peck On?

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. It’s good thing instant noodles don’t take that much energy to make!

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 peckers generally attempt to drill non-live trees at first, they can still destroy living trees by drilling.

Not only can the physical holes damage the material, but it can create areas of compromise where fungus and water damage can thrive. While drilling, woodpeckers can also transfer pathogens into the material from their beak.

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

I touched earlier upon using a bird repellent sound system and bird repellent tape to deter woodpeckers. Now, I want to give you a little more information on how to do so just by altering your property.

This takes a little more physical work but will be FAR worth it in the long run.

So, maybe you’ve found yourself in the unfortunate path of a persistent woodpecker.

These are stubborn guys (or gals) who do not leave their rent agreement easily. Again, it is illegal to harm a woodpecker. However, there are ways to discourage them from drilling or roosting in certain areas.

The best method still would be to FIRST to try out the reflective bird tape I mentioned above. There’s a good chance it’ll work out and be one of the least expensive options you can find.

The tape IS a quick and straightforward fix. If you have a metal siding, then it’s a no brainer for you to go with that route because the metal in not inherently desirable to woodpeckers. However, if you have a wood siding, then yes the tape will work, but there might be some underlying issues that you’ll be able to fix as well.

Here are the 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

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

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.

Bright Object to Deter Woodpeckers

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.

Where in the United States are Woodpeckers Found?

The most common areas for woodpeckers to reside are in the eastern and southeastern United States. This is because the climate and foliage in the area are the most conducive to woodpecker habits such as drilling pecking.

While those are the most common areas for woodpeckers, they can, in fact, be found in most wooded areas all over the USA! I’ve had my fair share of them in Upstate, NY. Thankfully, we have some beautiful vinyl siding that the woodpeckers don’t like too much!

While it sounds like I’ve been making woodpeckers out to be the bad guy, just remember that they do an excellent service by keeping insect infestations at bay and help recycle dead/dying trees.

So please remember this when you have one of these little guys visiting your property, and if they’re making plenty of noise during the daytime, remember that they most likely won’t bother you at night!

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