I have a woodpecker making holes in the cedar columns pillars in front of my...

Asked November 1, 2017, 5:46 PM EDT

I have a woodpecker making holes in the cedar columns pillars in front of my historic home.I have had the holes filled with putty, and the woodpecker returns...there are more holes now. Is there something to repel the woodpeckers that I can paint on the columns?? Or should I put a bug bomb down into each column to get rid of the bugs the birds may be after?? Any thoughts would be helpful. Thank you

Montgomery County Ohio woodpeckers

1 Response

Woodpeckers peck at surfaces for several reasons: to excavate a nest, to signal other woodpeckers (very common in spring) and to feed on insects in the wood. Breeding for most Ohio woodpeckers occurs in the early spring, therefore nesting cavities and drumming occur in the spring. If the damage is occurring now, the woodpecker is either attempting to excavate a winter sleeping cavity, or going after insects in the wood. The insects are often carpenter bees. Have you seen signs of them? If so, I suggest treating to get rid of the bees, then caulking the holes. If the birds are indeed creating a winter cavity, I would suggest you try a combination of exclusion (if possible), harassment techniques, and removal of attractants (bird feeders).

Exclusion - assuming the holes are not scattered over your entire home, use plastic mesh fencing (i.e. attached to L-brackets) to exclude the woodpeckers from getting at the previously excavated holes. Stretch a small plastic mesh (1/2" or smaller) with roughly 3" spacing between the fencing and the house. Do not leave open space at the top or bottom that the woodpecker could get into, and then become trapped between the fence and your home. Another option would be to attach a sheet of hard plastic over trim (areas where the woodpecker is concentrated). This is likely a more aesthetically pleasing option than the netting, and maybe a little easier.

Harassment techniques - This would be anything that scares the woodpecker away, has the element of surprise, and keeps the birds on their toes. Shiny, reflective tape (sometimes called mylar tape or bird scare reflecting tape) can work when hung over and near the areas the birds are damaging. If you decide to exclude, put the tape in areas that are not netted or covered in plastic to protect an even larger area. Old/unused CDs or DVDs can also work as they have a reflective quality. Items suspended so that they can blow in the breeze will work best. Another harassment technique would be loud noises. Remember the necessity of the element of surprise, try motion detection noise makers placed near the damage areas or areas you want to protect. Finally, if you are outside and see the birds on the house, yell at them, or spray them lightly with a hose.

To keep woodpeckers away from your yard, it would also help to eliminate bird feeding. Further details on repelling and controlling woodpecker damage can be found at the following link - http://icwdm.org/wildlife/Woodpeckers.aspx.