Woodpeckers in urban environments: A review on mitigating damage to buildings
Wal, S. van der
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Recently, woodpeckers have been observed to damage facades of buildings at several different locations in the Netherlands. Insight into the mechanisms underlying this strange behavior of woodpeckers is needed. Moreover, there is a need to identify solutions to mitigate the damage by woodpeckers to facades of buildings. It is suggested that competition regarding available high quality nesting holes might occur between woodpeckers and secondary cavity nesters, such as ring neck parakeet Psittacula krameri and the European starling Sturnus vulgaris (e.g. Aitken et al., 2002; Lohmus and Remm, 2005). This might in particular be the case, when competition takes place in an area with a shortage of suitable trees that can be used by woodpeckers for excavating cavities. As a result of competition and/or a shortage of suitable nesting trees, woodpeckers might excavate nesting cavities in facades of buildings. In order to mitigate damage by woodpeckers to facades of buildings, it is recommended to hang reflective ribbons on the sidings of buildings to frighten woodpeckers. Moreover, damage to facades should be repaired as soon as possible with rigid, white or pastel colored materials. If a shortage of suitable nesting trees might be an issue, it is suggested to provide woodpeckers with alternative artificial nesting sites nearby (Jasumback et al., 1999). This could be done by placing nest boxes, artificial or dead wood near the location where woodpeckers damage facades of buildings. In case this is not effective, it is suggested to cover the facade of the building entirely with vinyl, aluminum, aviary mesh, or plastic netting (Harding et al., 2007; Belant, 1997; Jasumbach et al., 2000). In regards to park management it is suggested to conserve old, damaged and dead trees, as these are important for creating and maintaining a sustainable breeding habitat for woodpeckers. For future construction near forests, parks or wooden areas it is recommended to use rigid materials that cannot be damaged by woodpeckers.