If you've noticed a bird pecking away at your gutter this week, you're not alone.

We've lived in the same home for over 20 years but for some reason, there's been a huge increase in wildlife on our property this spring. I'm not sure if it's the weather or a change in their habitat, but we're starting to feel overrun with animals that are way to comfortable encroaching on our space. Whether it's the pool-loving raccoon, the mouse that's decided to make its way into our wall or the owl that leaves "presents" around the bird feeder each morning, it feels like nature is taking over our home.

The latest problem started early in the morning when we awoke to the sound of a jackhammer. A thundering rattle would go off in blasts at random intervals, shaking the house and waking everyone up. Wondering who was doing construction on our street, my wife sprung out of bed and looked outside. Instead of a construction crew, she found a bird perched on our gutter.

Unsplash/Luke Schobert
Unsplash/Luke Schobert
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It turns out that one of the red-bellied woodpeckers that have been hanging around our feeder decided to make a meal out of our metal gutters. The hammering noise was deafening and made very little sense.

We've seen these woodpeckers hard at work on trees around our property, pecking away in search of delicious bugs. But our home has no exposed wood and, as far as we know, isn't filled with critters to snack on. So why was this woodpecker making such a racket?

Unsplash/Jack Bulmer
Unsplash/Jack Bulmer
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After doing some research, I learned that woodpeckers use their hammering beaks for more than just hunting for food. These strange little birds will practice drumming behavior in order to communicate. Woodpeckers will seek out different "instruments" and tap out loud, rhythmic bursts of noise. Metal gutters, along with siding and telephone poles are some favorite places for these birds to hammer out their sounds.

The loud noise alerts other birds to the woodpecker's presence. Sometimes it's to mark territory or to warn others to stay away, but this time of year it's usually done to attract a mate. Just like in the human world, these male birds believe that by being the loudest, most obnoxious guy in the room they're going to score a date with the pretty girl sitting in the corner.

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The good news is that all of this pecking is really for show. Woodpeckers can't do much damage to your gutters or any of the non-wood exterior of your home. Aside from a dent or two, the only problem you'll be left with is a lack of sleep. Luckily, the drumming activity doesn't last for long, as the other birds will quickly receive whatever message is being conveyed through all of that noise.

So, if you've got a jackhammer going off every morning on the side of your house, just roll over and try to get back to sleep. It's just a woodpecker saying "how you doin'?"

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