The aim of this work is to extend the finite element multibody dynamics approach to problems involving frictional contacts and impacts. The nonsmooth generalized-α (NSGA) scheme is adopted, which imposes bilateral and unilateral constraints both at position and velocity levels avoiding drift phenomena. This scheme can be implemented in a general purpose simulation code with limited modifications of pre-existing elements. The study of the woodpecker toy dynamics sets up a good example to show the capabilities of the NSGA scheme within the context of a general finite element framework. This example has already been studied by many authors who generally adopted a model with a minimal set of coordinates and small rotations. It is shown that good results are obtained using a general purpose finite element code for multibody dynamics, in which the equations of motion are assembled automatically and large rotations are easily taken into account. In addition, comparing results between different models of the woodpecker toy, the importance of modeling large rotations and the horizontal displacement of the woodpecker's sleeve is emphasized.