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Living with Woodpeckers

Male Pileated Woodpecker

Male Pileated Woodpecker

If you live in or near a wooded area you may be familiar with the rhythmic drumming of the woodpecker as it pounds its beck into the bark of a tree. This drumming is unique to the woodpecker and a welcome sign of springtime. Montana is home to 7 species of woodpeckers (Red-headed, Downy, Hairy, Three-toed, Black-backed, Pileated and Lewis'); the Yellowbellied and Red-bellied Sapsuckers; and the Northern Flicker. All of these bird species are in the Family Picidae and can be collectively called woodpeckers.

These birds are beneficial since they eat quantities of insects. They prefer snags or partially dead trees for nesting. In areas where woodpeckers live it is wise to provide appropriate habitat by leaving dead trees standing and removing limbs that may be hazardous. Nest boxes built to attract woodpeckers are also available. Providing habitat may eliminate their attractions to homes.