Birds

How To Get Rid Of Woodpeckers

Woodpeckers are very beautiful birds. They are colorful, cute and they peck around for insects or for supplies for nest building. However, their presence around your house may be enough to drive you insane. They are known to make “pecking” sounds at dawn that are sure to disturb your beauty sleep. What’s worse, these birds have the tendency to perforate your wooden house, transforming your smooth, wooden exterior into a dartboard (minus the darts).

They chip out a lot of wood from your house, enough to convert your humble abode into an embarrassing place to live. Your house will ultimately lose its beauty and who knows what kind of eerie stories the children in your neighborhood might say about your place. Worse, they might think you’re the Blair Witch in hiding.

Here are the three major reasons why these majestic birds become a major nuisance.

Drumming – This is an action male woodpeckers do during courtship. Drumming is their form of communication for claiming territory. In urban areas, rain gutters, chimneys, vent caps and wood sidings are excellent places for woodpeckers to practice drumming. Once you hear this bird drumming around, it’s like them saying to you “This area is mine now and I’m here to stay!”

Feeding – Woodpeckers peck wood in search for food. It’s very common for wooden houses (that are normally exposed to rain or shine) to have some sort of insect or wood worm living in fence posts, wood sidings and utility posts. These insects are enough motivation for woodpeckers to hang around your house.

Nesting – Woodpeckers are known to hammer the wood sidings of many houses to serve as their nesting hole. Many wooden homes have some cavities that these birds find suitable for nesting. (Tips on how to get rid of birds nest)

Since woodpeckers are considered migratory birds, you don’t expect them to be around your house 365 days a year. They usually visit you only during their breeding season, which only lasts several weeks. At this time of year, the most damaging factor caused by woodpeckers is when they decide to establish a temporary territory around your house.

Another factor could be insects. Are you sure your house is not the breeding ground of creepy crawlers? If your house is the favorite place of carpenter ants and bees, be sure to get rid of them first (See how to get rid of carpenter ants). Remember the magic rule: abundance of food is always a great hang-out spot for predators.

Many known woodpecker controls are speculated to cause some long-term harm to the birds. Here are some of them.

  • One method is the application of sticky resins like Roost-No-More or Tanglefoot on problem areas. These resins are designed to keep the birds off certain surfaces you wouldn’t want them to be perching on. However, it can stick to the bird’s plumage and may result in a bird’s difficulty taking flight.
  • Instead of resins, some people use suet as an alternative. Suet is a hard fatty tissue from beef loins that is common in cooking. The use of suet is discouraged by some because when the weather gets warm, the suet melts and will permanently stick to the bird’s feathers while it feeds.
  • Another method is the direct use of pesticides to ward off these birds.

Successful woodpecker management is really about spotting damage early and applying immediate action. Once you spot a problem area and delay any corrective action, it’s more difficult to stop the birds from creating more damage. Never allow them to feel welcome, or else it would be difficult for them to leave your house alone.

Here are some safe woodpecker measures you should consider.

Visual Deterrents

Ward of woodpeckers with things that normally scare them. Effective visual deterrents may be anything that moves and reflects light. You can try hanging strips of aluminum foil from a string that’s nailed to the side of your house where the woodpecker loves to perch and peck.

There are bird control vendors who sell impressive looking silhouettes of predatory birds, which you can hang close to the problem areas. If you notice that the woodpeckers become accustomed to your hanging “scare crows,” it’s time to resort to something else.

Sound Deterrents

Sound deterrent systems (such as Bird X Peller Pro) mimic the distress calls of predatory birds, which that signal woodpeckers to stay away from your house. This type of machine is highly sensitive to motion and sounds off whenever it detects bird movement. However, these systems can be very expensive. Some are known to cost $100 or more.

This is a great investment for many mansions. It’s important to consider practicality before you decide to buy one of these machines. Also, remember that woodpeckers are only around during their breeding season.

Cordon Measures

In cases when the birds seem to ignore your visual deterrent and you can’t afford to buy that sound deterrent system, it’s time to resort to cordon measures. To cordon is to guard the area where woodpeckers love to peck.

You can do this by getting hardware cloth or mesh plastic netting that’s fine enough that the birds’ wings won’t be caught in the net. It’s great to use hardware cloth because of its malleability, and it can be painted to match the exteriors of your house so as not to compromise your home’s aesthetic appeal.

These things serve as a hindrance for woodpeckers to reach the areas they’re fond of. It also deprives them of food, so this is enough to drive them away in a few days.

Cordon measures are a temporary solution to woodpecker problems, so you can easily take them down once the woodpecker leaves. The birds are known to return to places they peck, which makes cordon measures a great solution, especially for folks who don’t have time to fix the damages right away.

Trapping

If all else fails and you feel your home is being attacked by stubborn woodpeckers, you may resort to capturing them and have them carried off by wildlife personnel. To do this, you have to obtain a special permit from the State and Federal Wildlife Agency.

Integration of Woodpecker Controls

Many professionals and extension specialists combine the strategies outlined above as an integrated approach to preventing woodpecker damage. Many people readily apply hardware cloth on areas where they spot damage. Upon laying the hardware cloth, many people fix the damage as quickly as they can. Some start putting up both hardware cloth and visual deterrents. Here are the formulas for an effective integrated woodpecker control:

  • Woodpeckers should be denied any contact with the damage zones.
  • Insect controls, particularly wood-boring pests, must be managed immediately.
  • Installation of visual deterrents must be completed.
  • Proper installation of suet feeders should be done. Many put up suet feeders away from their homes in an effort to divert the birds’ attention and, sometimes, it’s effective in encouraging the birds to feed away from your home.

Damage Control

Applying damage control and repair is a must because your house is an important part of your life. Immediate correction measures to any damage caused by these birds would prevent the exacerbation of more damage by pests and even other birds.

Look at the trees killed by woodpeckers and insects; this should be enough to help you realize that ignoring them yields not-so-superficial damage. Here are the materials you should buy to control any damage caused by these birds.

  • Aluminum Flashing – This is a quick fix for multiple woodpecker holes found on wood siding. Just tack some aluminum flashing sheets on problem areas by using small aluminum nails. You can also paint the sheet to match the color of your house.
  • Wood Putty– This would require more time, but is a permanent solution to woodpecker damage. Allow the putty to dry safely by setting up netting to prevent woodpeckers from disturbing the putty as it hardens. You can apply some match color techniques on the putty when it’s dry.
  • Polyurethane –This is a chemical that you can paint outside your house to ward off wood-boring insects. In turn, woodpeckers are more likely to ignore your house because they will see it as a waste of time.

Before you blow your top off and decide to storm out on your front door with a shotgun in hand, you must know that these creatures are protected by federal law. The woodpeckers are one of the species covered by the Migratory Bird Act of 1918.

The statute states that it’s illegal to hunt, pursue, kill, capture or sell migratory birds. This law also grants protection against any harm done on migratory bird parts such as eggs, feathers and nests, which means getting rid of these creatures is not as simple as hitting them with a broomstick and bringing them to a taxidermist.

If caught violating the act, you may be fined as much as $500. This means it would be yours and Mother Nature’s best interest to employ woodpecker control techniques that would only shoo away and not endanger the survival of the species. For more interesting article such as this, read how to teach a parrot to talk.

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About the author

Nicole Harding

6 Comments

  • We have a woodpecked that pecks in out gutter in the early morning hours. How do we get rid of him without harming him?

  • We have a woodpecker drumming on our metal chimney. Because it is so high and dangerous to get too, I have resorted to doing things from the fireplace end of the chimney. Luckily, it is a gas fireplace. Each morning I turn on the fireplace to heat up the chimney so that he will find it uncomfortable. He now comes in the evening. I have tried playing a radio in the fireplace around hi drumming time (hoping that the rock n’ roll would keep him away. Must be a rocker! It doesn’t work. Any ideas other than shooting the bird (which my neighbor has volunteered to do!)?

  • I had read in an article that woodpeckers are drawn to peanut butter so to deture them from my house I had put some peanut butter on a few trees in the deep woods from my house within a week or two the woodpeckers were at a comfortable distance from my house and all is well now we live now with peace of mind knowing we didnt harm the bird we just simpley coached it away although it is now beating up some trees back there we are content with that factor for the time being before the damage back there gets to bad we will have wildlife come and trap it and move it to a better location

  • I have tried everything to get rid of a woodpecker that is putting numerous holes in my wood siding,I have tried a suet feeder, a fake owl,metal flashing and I’m open to any more suggestions.

  • I’ve tried streamers and the work well when the sun reflects on them. But when it’s cloudy or the sun shifts around to the other side of the house, the woodpeckers return. I have used a fake owl and these do not work. The woodpeckers have even begin to peck at the owl as if to almost mock it. I did try the polyeurethane on top of the paint around the house and it has proven to be effective for this the 1st week. Hope it lasts but the peace and quiet has been a tremendous blessing!

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