Archive for the 'woodpeckers' Category

TPW Magazine: Knock on Wood

Thursday, July 11th, 2019
Pileated woodpecker with young.

Pileated woodpecker with young.

This is Passport to Texas

Cliff Shackelford—the nongame ornithologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife—is one of our favorite guests on Passport to Texas. He’s always upbeat and ready to share interesting birding facts. Plus, the guy’s super passionate about his subject matter.

And in the August/September issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine—on newsstands now—he tells us about a species that’s held his fascination since he was a youngster, in an article called: Knock on Wood: Why I Love the Woodpeckers of Texas.

In the article Cliff writes: My fascination with woodpeckers has become somewhat of a life’s journey. In graduate school, I wrote a thesis on woodpeckers…I’ve published numerous papers on woodpeckers…I’ve traveled to other countries specifically to observe woodpeckers…Thus, I’ve long considered myself a qualified fan of woodpeckers.

Yeah, I’d have to agree with his self-assessment. In addition, he lets us know about the 16 species of woodpeckers and allies in Texas, which go by a variety of other names including sapsuckers and flickers—but they’re all in the woodpecker family.

He even shares a list of 15 regularly occurring woodpecker species here in Texas, complete with photos.

Get to know Cliff Shackelford and his beloved woodpeckers in the August/September issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine. On Newsstands now.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife… I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Solution to Woodpecker Damage to Home

Thursday, November 30th, 2017
Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

This is Passport to Texas

As a rule, woodpeckers dig out cavities in dead trees, called snags. Once construction is done—they move in. The exception occurs when they mistake your home’s wood siding, for a snag. When they do—homeowners have problems.

And it looks like cannon balls have been shot through the house. Maybe two or three; and we’ve seen some with fifteen, sixteen holes.

Cliff Shackelford is a non-game ornithologist with TPW. He says woodpecker damage occurs most often in urban and suburban areas where homeowners have removed the dead trees from their property.

What we recommend people to do with problems with woodpeckers is to put a nest box. If you’re familiar with a bluebird box, it’s just a larger version of that custom made for woodpeckers.

Find information and free blueprints to make your own woodpecker nest box at

People can build this in a couple of hours on the weekend, and put it up on the side of the house, and in all cases that we’ve done this – it’s worked. And the woodpecker stops chiseling on the home, and goes to this next box, and is very content.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Don’t Blame the Termites for this Damage

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017
Golden fronted woodpecker

Golden fronted woodpecker

This is Passport to Texas

If you live in East Texas, and have noticed strange holes in the wood siding of your home, don’t panic and call the police—call an ornithologist.

There are fifteen species of woodpeckers in Texas, eight of which are in the eastern third of Texas. And that’s where we get most of our calls of woodpecker damage.

Non-game ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford, says the pileated and red bellied woodpeckers are among the feathered culprits inflicting damage on homes with wood siding.

What happens a lot of time is that they see these houses that might be painted brown, they might have cedar siding, and this is very attractive to the birds to try to excavate a cavity. So, they’re not looking for food when they’re doing this; they’re looking to make a cavity to call home.

The pileated woodpecker, about the size of a crow, can excavate holes as big as a man’s fist—and not just in the outside walls of your home, either.

That’s right. We’ve documented pileateds going through into the sheetrock and into the room of the house. Of course, they’re very lost when they do that, they quickly go out. They’re not looking to make a mess of the house.

But they do. How to keep woodpeckers from damaging your home…that’s tomorrow.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

The Drummers of the Bird World

Thursday, December 15th, 2016
Golden fronted woodpecker, and golden throated ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford

Golden fronted woodpecker, and golden voiced ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford

This is Passport to Texas

Birds use their songs as a means of communication. But there are other ways birds get their point across, too.

Woodpeckers communicate by means of drumming.

Woodpeckers are the Questlove or Ringo Star of the bird world, and know how to make a racket.

Something like this: Brrrrrrrrrr. Very loud. Rapid succession beats to an object. Usually it’s going to be wood.

Those are the country woodpeckers. The city-dwelling woodpeckers drum on different surfaces.

They [woodpeckers] found in urban areas that we have metal rooves, telephone poles, aluminum gutters… These things really resonate and amplifies that drum to where that bird can cover more ground when drumming.

What are woodpeckers communicating through their drumming? And are they damaging property doing it?

When you hear that rapid-fire brrrrrrr, he’s not hurting anything. He’s just found a spot that really resonates, and he’s communicating to other woodpeckers, saying: ‘Hey, I’m the male here. This is my territory.’ And he’s also telling females: ‘Hey, if you’re interested, I’m here, too.’

Put a little smooth jazz or Barry White in the background and you have a bird version of love line.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our show.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.