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The mating and nesting behavior of woodpeckers ranges from compassionate to violent. Learn more about woodpeckers' nesting behavior.

The mating and nesting behavior of woodpeckers ranges from compassionate to violent. Though there are a variety of woodpecker species, many of the members of this group share similar mating qualities, with a few notable exceptions.

Woodpecker courtship


Next time you hear a woodpecker hammering away outside your window, he or she may be trying to communicate with a member of the opposite sex. Woodpeckers are primarily monogamous, though polygamous species do exist.

Courtship often begins with drumming, display flights and calls. Drumming can be used to advertise territory, alert a potential partner to a specific tree hole or to sexually stimulate another woodpecker.

Woodpeckers are a highly aggressive species and courtship often triggers territorial behavior between other males and between potential mates.

Black woodpecker males engage in a ritual called ‘threat courtship,’ where the birds will threaten each other with calls before flying to a base of tree and attempting to drive each other upward.

Interactions between potential mates can also be fairly aggressive during courtship, though, once he feels more insecure, the male’s aggression usually subsides.

Woodpecker Holes

Woodpeckers are cavity nesters. They create their own nests by excavating wood from trees and rarely use nests from previous years. Excavation of holes typically takes woodpeckers 10-28 days. This construction is usually done by both the male and the female; sometimes the pair will produce one hole for breeding and another for roosting later in the year.

Woodpecker Copulation and Nesting

Woodpecker copulation lacks any sort of ceremony. The female assumes the breeding position while stretched out on a branch and the male mounts her from behind.

Eggs are typically laid in the morning and the size of the clutch is between four and six eggs. The incubation period is approximately 10-14 days and both the male and female guard the eggs during this period, usually rotating every 30-50 minutes.

The nestling period is 18-35 days, and after leaving the nest, the young birds often return to spend time with their parents in the territory for 1-8 weeks. Eventually, the parents drive them away and they become fully independent.

Browse our inventory of woodpecker houses here. Each woodpecker house we sell, like all of our products, is backed by a 30-day 100% money-back guarantee. Interested in learning more about woodpeckers? Then check out the articles below.

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