The Major Benefit To Attracting Woodpeckers To Your Yard

Woodpeckers are the friends you didn't know you wanted in your yard. These voracious bug-eaters are the architects of the avian world. Attracting woodpeckers to your yard is a way to rid yourself of some insect pests and invite other birds and mammals to take up residence on your property.

Woodpeckers are gaining attention as something called a keystone species. Species that earn this unofficial title help their ecosystems thrive by supporting other species. Woodpeckers have a couple of characteristics that earned them keystone species status. The holes they make in trees provide years of nesting spaces for other birds and small mammals. Plus, woodpeckers have an appetite for a pest that's threatening tree species, the emerald ash borer.

You don't have to worry that woodpeckers will harm your trees, either. The Penn State Extension shares that healthy trees can handle a bit of woodpecker damage, and that the birds very rarely cause long-term harm to trees. All in all, woodpecker guests bring with them some benefits you might not have considered.

Let them eat bugs!

There's an insect in North America that is decimating forests. The emerald ash borer is gnawing its way through ash trees (Fraxinus) and the occasional fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus) in 35 states. This beetle is wreaking havoc in woods from the Eastern Seaboard to as far west as parts of Colorado. Woodpeckers living in these areas have discovered a taste for this devastating bug.

Not only are the birds doing a small part to make a dent in the ash borer population, they are also giving a hand to the U.S. Forest Service. Researchers are keeping an eye out for ash trees frequented by woodpeckers, since the birds can be an indicator of infection. The Forest Service can then swoop in and hopefully catch the infestation before it kills the tree and spreads. While there are easy ways to prevent invasive emerald ash borers from destroying your trees, in some cases, you may need help from experts. If you have vulnerable ash or fringe trees that are seeing more visits from woodpeckers, err on the side of caution. Report any possible infestations to the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Helpful home builders

You can think of tough-headed woodpeckers as a protective older sibling for other animals that need shelter. Woodpeckers of all kinds seek out dead standing trees, or dead sections of living trees, to carve out their homes. They create a new hole each season, and what's left behind is a lovely nest for many types of birds and some small mammals. Woodpeckers can convert your yard into a refuge for sparrows, blue birds, wood ducks, owls, and squirrels. This way of bringing biodiversity into your garden benefits not only the animals but humans as well.

With new homes, high-rises, parking lots, and more popping up constantly, many species are losing their natural habitat. Your safe space for woodpeckers and more plays a small part in making up for that lost natural space. A variety of backyard visitors lets you connect with nature while also providing them a home.