Woodpeckers can cause a great deal of property damage and sleepless mornings. But there are ways to control them.
Woodpeckers are a federally protected bird under the North American Migratory Bird Act. Do not use lethal control on woodpeckers without contacting your Federal Wildlife Officer. You will need to institute non-lethal control strategies before you will receive permission to implement lethal control. (See below for information on non-lethal woodpecker control).
Why Woodpeckers Peck Your Home
Woodpeckers damage structures for basically three reasons:
1. Searching for insects;
2. Creating cavities for nesting and shelter; or
3. Marking territory (a common phenomenon called drumming primarily during the months of March/April/May).
Don't give up hope! In one study, the birds stopped drumming 50 percent of the time within two weeks or so whether the homeowners did anything or not.
Non-Lethal Strategies to Control Woodpecker Damage
Unfortunately, there is no easy guaranteed solution. So with that being said, try the following strategies:
1. Cover all holes as soon as possible. Place aluminum flashing over the areas where the woodpecker is pecking. The flashing will stop the pecking at that spot because: 1) it is metal, 2) it changes the sound, and 3) woodpeckers don't like shiny objects. Just make sure that the woodpecker is not living in your home.
2. Harass and scare the woodpecker causing damage, using one or more of the following techniques:
? Mylar tape: You can also try running some Mylar tape (1-inch-wide strips) around the area where he is pecking. Woodpeckers don't like shiny objects. If you don't have Mylar, use tinfoil or small mirrors. Remember, no harassment technique works all the time or in every situation.
? Distress tapes: There are machines that digitally recreate woodpecker distress calls. These are NOT ultrasonic devices, which do not work. When you turn on the device, it spooks the woodpecker.
? Scary eye balloons: These balloons mimic the look of an owl, which spooks the woodpeckers.
? Garden hose: One animal damage controller recommends placing a garden hose with a sprinkler set at an angle to reach where the bird is drumming. The woodpeckers leave after a few squirts because they don't like hanging on to wet structures. There is an automatic sprinkler on the market called the Scarecrow which may be useful when the temperatures are above freezing.
? Attack spider: This is a relatively new (2003) technique. It activates using a sound detector to scare woodpeckers through sight and motion.
? Owl effigies: These are only effective if you are willing to move them around on a daily basis. Understand that at best the effigy will work only in the short term, if at all.
? Exclusion techniques: If woodpeckers are damaging your siding under an eave, hang some netting from the eave line down to the ground. If the net is extended away from the house wall, the woodpecker can't get close enough to damage the wood. Some homes actually leave the hooks up year round and then hang the netting as needed.
Also, as soon as you notice problems, take action quickly before the woodpecker decides your home is a nice place to live.
When all else fails, apply for a depredation permit to remove the problem woodpecker.
Lethal Control Techniques
These techniques require federal and sometimes state permits.
? Shooting: Make sure you follow all relevant federal, state, and local ordinances.
? Lethal trapping: Probably the safest and most effective lethal control method.
Federal Depredation Permit Application