Here’s how you can prevent woodpeckers from damaging your home

Aug 18, 2022, 3:00 PM
(Artur Widak/Getyy Images)...
(Artur Widak/Getyy Images)
(Artur Widak/Getyy Images)

“Woodpecker” is an apt name for an animal that thrives on doing just that, pecking wood, usually within earshot of your bedroom or quiet space. On average, a woodpecker will peck around 12,000 times a day or about 500 times an hour, according to The Smithsonian.

Most of us find such repetitive drill-like noises annoying and a breach of our serenity. However annoying they may be, put the slingshot away; woodpeckers are classified as migratory nongame birds. They are protected by state and federal laws and cannot be harmed. So, how do you prevent your home from becoming a popular pecking spot?

First, it helps to understand the method behind the madness. If one has decided to peck at your home regularly, they prefer your home and area over others. In the bird’s eyes, their justification for pecking is valid and crucial to their survival.

What’s with the pecking, Woody?

Woodpeckers will peck at siding, trees, and roofs for three primary reasons.

1| To Mark Their Territory

Differentiating themselves from animals that use scent to mark their territory, woodpeckers will peck as a signal to other birds that they have claimed this area for their own. In conjunction with claiming territory, the thrum of their pecking is used to attract mates, and having your own place is always a plus. Expect such behaviors to be most prevalent during the start of spring, during the early morning hours, and late afternoon.

2 | Making A Home

Once the woodpecker has established its territory, the next logical step is to create a home. They prefer to nest in cavities or holes they carve out with their beaks. If given a choice between your home or dead/dying trees, the woodpeckers will be partial to what nature provides. However, lacking such options, they will gladly utilize your house as a way to make their own home. They (and pigeons) are the bird species of squatters.

3 | To Find Food

Woodpeckers utilize pecking in their constant search for food. While these birds can provide a much-needed hand in managing insects such as termites and carpenter bees, there are drawbacks – pecking on your house. According to the Arizona Fish & Game Department, pecking for food/insects differs from the traditional drumming/pecking. Food-related pecking is often sporadic and quieter.

Prevention

There are options for preventing or trying to rid your property of woodpeckers in a way that does not harm the birds. They range from little upkeep to requiring more vigilance.

Find a pinecone and liberally coat it in cheese, followed by a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. Then place the cone near the zones where they are most active. One peck and the pepper will send a clear message that this is no longer a desirable feeding area.

Fill a spray bottle with tabasco sauce and water. Take the mixed solution and spray the areas the birds prefer. Again, this concoction should convince the bird the area is no longer suitable for pecking.

Place metallic or reflective objects that move in the breeze. Mylar balloons, silver pinwheels, pie tins, or mylar tape/aluminum foil strips that freely hang will deter them.

If the woodpecker targets non-moving, shiny, or reflective surfaces or objects, cover them with burlap to mask its attractiveness.

Place decoys of the woodpecker’s natural predators, such as a hawk. Find one that is 22-inches wing-to-wing, and about 11-inches long. They can be purchased online, or you can make them out of cardboard, Styrofoam, or plywood.

Hang bird netting (plastic or nylon) from your eaves before angling it down and attaching it to your siding. Ensure the netting is a minimum of three inches off the side of your house because a determined woodpecker may be able to reach through.

Taking away their food source may provide respite for you from the birds. If it has been some time since you last had your yard treated, consider calling an exterminator.

Join Rosie on the House every Saturday morning from 8 a.m.-11 a.m. on KTAR News 92.3. If you’d like to send us questions or comments, email mailto:[email protected] Follow us on Twitter and “Like” us on Facebook. For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert since 1988, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program. Call 888-767-4348 with questions & comments.

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Here’s how you can prevent woodpeckers from damaging your home