Do Woodpeckers Mate For Life? Everything You Need To Know

Do Woodpeckers mate for life

There are many woodpecker species all over the world. However, most of them will likely mate for the rest of their lives if you must know.

Although, some Woodpecker species like the Acorn Woodpecker are polygamous since their female counterpart has a habit of mating with multiple birds once it’s mating season.

Finding A Mate

Most birds entertain their companions with an attractive courtship display of affection, while the Woodpecker’s preferred move is to drum as a way of attracting their likely mate.

Woodpeckers like to follow a specific pattern as they are drumming for their mate; however, our human ears may not recognize the sound.

Research has revealed that males love to drum more than females, and each woodpecker species have their drumming style.

Hairy woodpeckers

This particular species makes a persistent drumming sound that is similar to the sound of a drum roll.

Downy Woodpeckers

On the other hand, the Downy woodpeckers like to drum slowly, pause for a few seconds, and resume drumming.

These woodpeckers don’t have a specific drumming place; they can drum anywhere. Some of them have discovered that most man-made structures make more noise than wood.

For example, you might see a woodpecker drumming away on trash cans or road signs; whenever you see this happen, know they are searching for a mate.

Also, drumming is another great sign that the Woodpecker has found an amazing nesting spot. In the woodpecker world, courtship involves a little bit of flight displays and some noise.

As a human, you might consider the Woodpecker to be a noisy bird, but drumming is a sound that signals courtship to the Woodpecker.

Protecting Their Zone

Woodpeckers are more territorial once it’s nesting season; they become more aggressive and chase birds away from their territory.

Once a male bird becomes interested in an area and wants to nest there, the male bird that already owns the territory will battle it out with the intruder.

Though this battle ritual might differ from the various species, the territorial battle display mainly involves moving heads from one side to another and spreading out feathers and their tails.

As the display of strength continues, the birds might use their bills to poke one another; as if that isn’t enough, they may chase one another up the tree.

Woodpeckers don’t usually fight dirty and get violent. However, they display more aggression in chasing the intruder away than in fighting aggressively with the intruder.

Making The Nest

 Woodpeckers build their homes in trees or in deadwood that are found on the ground. It is the primary responsibility of the male and female Woodpecker to create the hole.

They usually take turns to build the hole to their satisfaction, and it can take them a long 28 days to finish the project.

In most cases, they may even build another hole for roosting.

Once the project is completed, the hole will be a bit bigger than the bird, and the design will vary from one woodpecker species to another.

Woodpeckers generally prefer dead or older trees because they usually have a softer inner cavity. Also, once a new nest is built, there rarely go back to their old nest.

For example, the Red-bellied Woodpecker has a habit of returning to its old nest to build a new nest beneath the old one.

Types Of Woodpecker Nest

There are various woodpecker nest designs and they are as follows;

Round holes

This is the most preferred choice of nest design by many woodpeckers. Woodpeckers like the Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers love round holes.

However, the Acorn Woodpeckers are known for creating multiple round holes at once and can use one for roosting and the other for nesting.

Oblong holes

The Pileated Woodpecker happens to be the only species of Woodpecker that loves to create oblong holes.

Gourd shaped holes

This hole design is popular among the Red-Headed Woodpecker species. They love to create holes with a gourd-shaped opening.

The Woodpecker family

On average, the size of a brood is between 4 to 6 eggs. However, the Acorn Woodpecker species can incubate about 12 to 15 eggs at once and share their nest and responsibilities.

The male and female woodpeckers will take turns to incubate their beloved eggs. It takes about ten to fourteen days for the eggs to hatch.

Once they are hatched, it’s the responsibility of both parents to assist in the upbringing of their young ones until they are some weeks old and get chased out of their territory to experience the world.

Other bird species might leave the responsibility of raising their young to their female partner, but when it comes to woodpeckers, they share the workload of raising their young and nesting.

Furthermore, Woodpeckers prefer to stay in the same place, which is why they stay with the same partner for life.

Feeding Habits

The Woodpecker’s choice of food consists of beetle larvae, carpenter ants, nuts and berries. While hunting for carpenter ants, the Pileated woodpeckers will make a long gash on a tree to release the ants.

These carpenter ants are usually found on decaying or dead trees and logs. With its long, barbed and sticky tongue, the Woodpecker can collect the delicious insects from the dead wood.


The most common predators that see the Woodpecker as their next meal include the following;

  • Squirrels
  • Black snakes
  • Northern Goshawk
  • Coopers Hawk
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • Great Horned Owl

While the Woodpeckers love to stay together for a long time, once one of them dies, the other won’t abandon their territory.

On the contrary, they’ll start drumming to call and attract an unmated companion from a nearby territory. The Woodpecker can sometimes be shy and cautious.

If you want to see them in action, follow their sound.

Why Does Woodpecker Prefer To Drum On Houses?

Woodpeckers love to drum on houses for the following reasons;

  1. They hammer on houses because it produces a loud satisfying sound that notifies other birds that the territory is theirs and also, to attract the attention of a mate.

If the purpose of drumming is to find a mate, once they find one and breeding begins, they’ll stop. Woodpeckers don’t drum when in search of food.

  1. Another reason a Woodpecker will be seen drumming is because they are digging a nest or a roosting hole.

If the Woodpecker is creating a nest hole, it will be round and large. The birds prefer to build the nesting holes at the start of the breeding season which falls between April and May.

If you want to get rid of woodpeckers from your property, ensure you do so before the nesting season or after.

  1. You’re likely to find Woodpeckers where you have an insect infestation problem. Woodpeckers are always hunting for carpenter ants, grass bagworms, leafcutter bees, and other insects.

If the birds discover that you have an ant infestation problem, they may come and build a nest close to the food source.

One of the first steps to get rid of a Woodpecker is to destroy their food source by hiring the services of an exterminator.

  1. Woodpeckers love to store food. So if you live in the west, Acorn Woodpeckers will build hundreds of nest holes into houses or large trees and place a fresh Acorn inside each of the nests.

Green Woodpecker Facts You May Not Know

Here are some of the known facts of the Yaffling green Woodpecker you might not know.

What do the green woodpeckers eat?

If you’ve seen the Green woodpecker in your garden, observe closely and you’ll notice that its main focus is on insects. They dine on both the adult ants, larvae, and the eggs.

However, when they can’t find ants to eat during winter, they’ll settle for other invertebrates that they can handle, alongside fruit and pine seeds.

They don’t peck much

The green woodpeckers have weak bills compared to other species of woodpeckers. When building their nest holes, they prefer to build on soft wood, and they hardly drum as a means of communication.

Breeding and nesting

The green woodpeckers usually have a brood of about five to seven eggs and they usually lay eggs in the month of May.

They love to build their nest on trees and prefer to use the same tree every year and probably the same hole.

The green woodpeckers have an amazing parenting skill that they leverage to teach their young how and where to feed.

They may bring their young to your lawn to feed and introduce them to their favorite ant delicacy.

How to recognize the male and female green Woodpecker?

Many people find it difficult to differentiate between the male and female Yaffling green woodpecker because they have a similar look.

However, the male green Woodpecker has many red colors in their moustachial stripes (a dark stripe or a white stripe that runs along the lower edge of the auriculars).

Whereas the female green woodpeckers don’t have such red colors as the males. Furthermore, both sexes of all ages have green feathers with red caps and yellow rumps.

The Bottom Line

Woodpeckers are a unique set of birds that love to spend time with their partners. Aside from those into polygamous relationships, the vast majority enjoy a monogamous relationship and will mate for life.