How can I discourage woodpeckers from putting holes in the wood siding of my...

Asked October 18, 2020, 6:33 PM EDT

How can I discourage woodpeckers from putting holes in the wood siding of my house? The wood is cedar and it is painted gray.

Auglaize County Ohio

1 Response

Hello and I'm sorry to hear you are having issues with woodpeckers.

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. My guess is the later. 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. This often solves the problem as you are eliminating the attractant. If this does not help, then you might 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 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 areas where the woodpecker damage 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 - Scroll down to the publication titled 'Woodpeckers."