are trying to establish territories and attract mates.
This predominantly springtime behavior, called drumming, generally
is done in rapid succession on resonant dead tree trunks or limbs.
However, buildings and utility
poles, when available, are often
alternatives. Drumming may occur a number of times during a single
day, and may last for some days or weeks.
are looking for food.
Woodpeckers naturally search vertical
surfaces of tree trunks and branches for wood boring beetles,
carpenter ants, and other insects. The pecking style used for
feeding is much different from drumming. Only a few pecks are made
and then the resulting hole is explored with the bird's bill and
tongue. This behavior will continue until an insect is found or the
bird is satisfied that one is not there. Then the woodpecker may hop
a few inches away and peck at another place. The damage from this
feeding activity usually occurs in horizontal lines that follow
tunnels made by the insects. The side of a house is not usually a
very productive place to search for insects and grubs especially if
insect pest controls are used by the homeowner. Board and batten
wood siding seems to be the type that is the most attractive to
woodpeckers. There is evidence that leafcutter bees store
leaf-wrapped larvae in the gaps found in this type of siding. One
rather odd theory proposes that woodpeckers hear the humming and
clicking of electrical appliances inside the house and assume that
the sound is coming from a bountiful supply of insects.
are excavating a nest cavity.
is usually done on a dead tree or broken snag. An attack of this
kind on the side of a house is not very common. If this is what they
are doing they will drill through the exterior wall rather quickly
and may drill all the way into the house.
How Can I Get Them To
Stop Pecking On My House?
(only number four is guaranteed to work).
them a good scare.
first sign of woodpecker activity on your house, woodpeckers might be
scared away by doing something as simple as making noises at a nearby window or against the
adjacent inside wall. If this fails, hang strips of foil, fabric or commercially
available bird netting from the eaves to deter the birds. Other
scare tactics include placing hawk or owl cutouts on the house,
hanging balloons in the area, a child's pinwheel, flash tape,
strings of shiny, noisy tin can lids, wind chimes and/or pulsating
water sprinklers. There are a few mechanical devices available for
purchase that are advertised as woodpecker deterrents. Most of these
are motion sensitive and cause something to move or make a noise
when activated. One that we have seen advertised drops a spider on a
string when motion is detected. The noisemakers may be more
irritating than the woodpecker. We have not tested any of these
devices and are not willing to recommend them at this time. Woodpeckers can be very persistent and are not
easily driven from their territories or selected pecking sites. For
this reason, visual or sound types of repellents should be employed
as soon as the problem is identified and before territories are well
established. Scare tactics are considered to be the least effective
means for dealing with this problem.
If you plan to use scare tactics one of
these might work...
Here's a scare tactic from one of our
flicker woke me up every morning pecking on the molding at the
ceiling inside the two-story roof over my front porch. He did a lot
of damage. When I finally realized that he was roosting there,
beginning at about 5 p.m., I tried loud music and a bright
flashlight to no avail. He would just stare me down. After dark when
he put his head under his wing, he just ignored me. I put together a
long pole and decided to poke him. Before dark as he saw the pole
rising, he would fly away. If I went back into the house, he would
come back to his roost. On two successive days I then returned right
after dark. He didn't like being sent away to look for another roost
after dark, so after the second time on two successive nights that I
raised the bamboo pole and almost touched him, he flew away and has
not been back. Maybe this report will help someone else.
a barrier between the woodpecker and the house.
scare tactics don't work, create a physical barrier by screening the
drumming site with hardware cloth, sheet metal, or nylon bird
netting. Netting is one of the most effective methods of excluding
woodpeckers. A mesh of 3/4" is usually recommended. At least
3" of space should be left between the netting and the damaged
building so that birds cannot cause damage through the netting. This
approach has proved to be the most effective technique short of
killing the bird.
them something else to peck on.
might work to provide an alternative drumming site by nailing two
boards together at just one end and hanging on a secure surface. If
you have dead trees in your yard, you might think removing them and
the insects they harbor will solve your woodpecker problems. Again,
the opposite may be true. Cutting down dead and decaying trees
deprives the birds of nesting, drumming and food sites and may force
them to take a look at your house. This tactic is a long shot. Don't
put too much hope in it.
the woodpecker from your property.
No, don't just go get your shotgun and start blasting away, as tempting as
this may be. Call a professional pest control company and see if
they have any experience with trapping woodpeckers. You might even
be able to trap them yourself and take them on a trip to the
boondocks (they may come back though). If it gets bad enough
you may be forced to contact a wildlife
services office to request a
depredation permit. They will ask you to fill out forms explaining
the problem and after a month or so of bureaucratic deliberation may
give you the permit. Then you can get out your shotgun and start
blasting away. Be careful not to shoot a hole in the house.
Perhaps you don't have any
woodpeckers in your yard an would like to
Here to read "Attracting Woodpeckers In Alabama".