Woodpecker Damaging House

Asked October 14, 2015, 4:50 PM EDT

How can we get rid of a red headed woodpecker that is making holes in the corner boards of our dark brown cedar sided house about 14 feet above the ground?

Montgomery County Virginia

1 Response

It very often is the search for food that draws our attention to the presence of a woodpecker, where we first hear the characteristic “rapping” sounds it makes as it chips away the bark or exposed wood of a tree. Sometimes, though, that “rapping” you hear comes as a woodpecker chips away hunks of wooden siding on your home. In some cases, they may have detected the presence of wood-boring insects or those that have invaded a decayed area under the siding. To them, this sheathing on your home represents just a different type of “bark” that provides cover for the food resource it wants to get at. In other cases, the new home you have built in the woods (and in the bird’s territory) presents new opportunities to the woodpecker in having new and effective drumming sites.

Scare Devices

Woodpeckers can be frightened from the area by banging pots, clapping hands, or honking horns. Spraying the bird with a high-pressure water hose can also be effective. Using high-reflective mylar tape (1/2" width) has also been successful. The mylar tape is looped loosely from the roof soffit under the gutters or is strung vertically over the damaged area. In the latter case, use several parallel strands for best results.

Commercially available helium-filled mylar balloons (preferably silver) can also be used in a similar manner. Tie the balloon to a rock using fishing line or a strong string so that the head of the balloon bobs in the damaged area. The rock and balloon can be moved around the structure as needed. Do not use mylar balloons in areas where overhead power lines are present.

Exclusion

Woodpeckers can be prevented from reaching siding by mounting fine mesh netting or screening from the outside edge of the eave down the side of the structure.

Drumming or pecking may also be discouraged by covering the affected area with heavy (3+mils) plastic sheeting. The plastic should be stretched tightly over the damaged facade of the structure and attached with tacks, staples, or tape. This will prevent the woodpeckers from being able to grip the rough texture of siding with their claws. Woodpeckers cannot peck or drum if they cannot hang on to the surface of the structure. The plastic can be put up or removed as needed.

If substantial damage has already occurred to the structure, holes should be repaired using wood filler, wood plugs, or silicone caulk. Temporary screening or metal flashing should then be placed over the areas to prevent further damage. If damage occurs repeatedly, homeowners may choose to cover eaves, siding or window facings with vinyl or aluminum siding.

Because damage is seasonal and may occur each year, the homeowner may also choose to use mylar tape, balloons, and/or netting to prevent damage rather than waiting for damage to occur.

Repellents

There are no repellents or paints proven to prevent or reduce woodpecker damage. There is also no evidence that shows that a painted surface is less desirable than an unfinished surface as a drumming site.

Woodpeckers are beneficial birds that feed mostly on insects. They are protected by both federal and state laws.

Hopefully one of the methods above will help solve your problem!