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Control Methods: Drumming | Foraging | Nesting/Roosting

The best way to keep woodpeckers from hammering on your house is to begin damage control as soon as you hear the first tap. And you should continue these measures even after the woodpecker has left to ensure that it does not return. Any holes the bird has made in your house should be immediately repaired and painted to avoid attracting more woodpeckers.

General woodpecker deterrents

1. Tactile deterrents
  • Although some people recommend applying sticky repellents such as Tanglefoot Pest Control, Roost-No-More, and Bird Stop to areas where damage is occurring, we are against using them. These products can get on a bird’s plumage, impairing its ability to fly and stay warm. Moreover, they can darken and stain wooden siding and cause dirt to adhere to the surface where they’re applied.

2. Visual deterrents

  • Aluminum foil strips or reflective tape, such as Irri-Tape, manufactured by Bird-X, hung from areas where damage occurs may scare away woodpeckers. The strips should be long enough to hang freely and blow in the breeze.
  • Windsocks hung from house corners serve the same purpose as aluminum foil and may be less intrusive.
  • Handheld windmills, especially those with reflective vanes, can be attached along areas of damage. The motion of the revolving vanes may discourage woodpeckers.
  • Plastic owls hung from the eaves of a house will generally frighten off woodpeckers for the first few days. However, birds often acclimate to the same visual stimulus in the same exact place every single day. Terror Eyes manufactured by Bird-X, may prove effective as an alternative to plastic owls. This product bounces from a spring, and the lenticular, holographic eyes follow the bird in any direction. Therefore, the product is actually moving, making it less likely that the birds will become acclimated to it.

3. Sound deterrents

  • With an electronic distress call system, a recording of a woodpecker distress call followed by the call of a predator such as a Sharp-shinned Hawk is broadcast through a speaker system at various intervals to frighten woodpeckers away from your house. One example is BirdXPeller Pro, manufactured by Bird-X.
  • A movement detector that makes noise when it senses movement can be attached to damaged areas (this will also keep deer away from your garden).

    Listen to the distress call of a Downy Woodpecker, followed by the call of a Sharp-shinned Hawk »
4. Other preventative measures
  • To prevent damage under eaves, lightweight nylon or plastic netting can be attached from the overhanging eaves to the siding of the damaged building. One type of netting on the market is BirdNet, manufactured by Bird-X. To keep the birds from reaching through the net, leave at least three inches between the net and the siding.
  • Aluminum flashing can be used to cover existing holes or to line the corner or fascia boards of the house. You can paint it to match your siding.
  • Setting up a suet feeder in your yard may draw the birds away from your house. Keep the feeder supplied with food throughout fall, winter, and spring when natural food is scarce and the birds are hungriest because of the cold weather. Remove the feeder during the hot summer months because the suet may become sticky and adhere to the bird’s plumage.
  • To dull the sound produced by drumming, place padding behind the area where the bird is drumming.

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Nesting or roosting woodpecker problem

    As long as a nest is not already established, existing holes should be plugged with wood putty. If the birds already have eggs or young, the holes can be sealed after the nestlings have fledged, usually by midsummer. The preventive measures outlined under General Woodpecker Deterrents can then be followed to keep the woodpecker off your house.

Insect prevention

1. Carpenter Bees

    If there are long trenches and holes on the wood fascia boards of your house, chances are youíve got carpenter bees, and the woodpeckers have discovered them. To discourage the woodpeckers, you must get rid of the bees.
  • Carpenter bees prefer to drill into either natural or stained wood. If the wood is painted (oil base or polyurethane), there is less chance of infestation, because a hard finish deters bees.
  • If you prefer natural or stained wood, spray the area with a preventive insect control such as Cypermethrin.
  • If the bees are already established, consider using an insecticide specifically designed to control wasps and bees. It should be sprayed into the entrance holes in late evening or at night when the bees are inside the tunnels. After 24 hours, plug the tunnel entrances with a cork, wooden dowel, or wood putty to keep bees from recolonizing there.
2. Leaf-cutter bees and other insects
  • If your house is sided with grooved plywood, painting it will often seal core gaps, preventing insects from tunneling into the wood. If you donít want to paint your house, caulking along the sides of the vertical grooves can cover entrances to gaps in the core. This is labor-intensive, but it is often the only way to get rid of the insects. Once the gaps are caulked, the damage should be repaired so old holes donít attract foraging woodpeckers.
  • For houses sided with wooden shakes, shingles, or board and batten, the most effective remedy is probably to get an exterminator to spray the outside of your house with insecticide and then replace the damaged shakes or boards. If damage is continuous and extensive, an electronic distress call system may be effective.
Damage prevention for trees
    Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers tend to drill for sap in certain ornamental trees, such as the mountain ash. To keep sapsuckers from damaging trees (boring rings of small holes around the bark of the trunk or limbs), wrap a burlap bag or other heavy material around the damaged area. Or you could allow the woodpeckers to use the damaged tree in the hope that they will not move to other trees. Keep in mind that sapsuckers tend to drill into trees that are already diseased or damaged.

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