How to Keep Woodpeckers from Damaging Your House
Have you ever been jarred awake at 6 AM with what sounded like someone had a jackhammer on your roof. Woodpeckers drumming and hammering away at the metal vent pipes on your roof can be quite an alarm clock.
Woodpeckers, flickers and sapsuckers will peck, drum and hammer at anything as long as it makes noise. This usually starts in February and ends in early July. Woodpeckers will hammer at objects for a variety of reasons such as attracting a mate, establish and defending territory, to make a nest or search for insects. And in the process they can drill holes into your siding and trim. Woodpeckers and their relatives can damage more than siding, including plastic used for rooftop water-heating solar panels.
There are several things you can try to keep woodpeckers from making all that noise and damaging your house. You might have to try several ideas and see which one works. Do not consider harming or killing woodpeckers or destroying a nest, since that is against the law. Woodpeckers are protected in the United States under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Woodpeckers like to build their nest in dead or dying trees. They peck out a cavity in the trees as their new home. With cities growing outward, woodpeckers are having a harder time finding suitable nesting places so they are turning to homes as places to make their nests. Once a woodpecker has established a nest, it isn’t easy to drive them away.
Ideas to Keep Woodpeckers Away
- If the birds are trying to make a nest on the siding under the eaves, you can use a lightweight plastic bird netting in that area. Attach the netting under the gutters area and then slope it down to the siding. Leave at least 3” of space between the netting and the building so the birds cannot peck through the netting. Also be sure to secure the netting so the birds can’t find a way behind the netting.
- Since woodpeckers like to make loud noises and they need a hollowed out area to build their nest in, you can put something behind the siding to deaden the noise and make it sound less hollow. If you can get to the hollow areas of your house, you can spray expanding foam, which will deaden the sound.
- Make your own noise. When the woodpeckers are hammering away at your house, make noise of your own by clapping your hands or banging pans. You will have to continue this throughout the spring though or until the birds decide your house isn’t for their new nest.
- Fix the hole or damage as soon as the woodpeckers cause it, before they set up a nest in there. You can cover the hole with metal and paint it the siding color or put a piece of siding over the hole with foam or Styrofoam behind the new piece of siding.
- Sometimes woodpeckers hammer away at the wood siding and the trim of your home to get at insects in the wood. Using wood preservatives or insecticides on the new wood could kill the insects. Paint the wood so bugs cannot make homes in there, without the bugs, the woodpeckers might not attack the siding and trim. Make sure any gaps in the wood are filled since a woodpecker can tear at the gap.
- Many times woodpeckers will drill holes in a line across the siding and trim, especially if unpainted. Fix each hole with a lightweight adhesive epoxy. Once the epoxy hardens you can sand and paint it.
- Woodpeckers, known as acorn woodpeckers will drill holes to keep their acorns in, will sometimes drop the acorns into roof vents. You can put screen across these vents to prevent the acorns from being dropped in. Just remember the screens have to be kept clear of leaves and other debris.
- Putting strips made of black plastic or Mylar, about 1.5” wide and 2.5’ long and attach them to the eaves. This might prevent the birds from perching and hammering your trim and siding.
- You can put up a plastic owl somewhere on your house near the trim. The fake owl is supposed to scare away the woodpeckers, but this usually does not work, woodpeckers are apparently pretty smart.
- Having a pest control company come out and get rid of any bugs or nests like carpenter bee nests in and around your home could help keep the woodpeckers from getting the bugs out for you.
- If these other methods fail, you can build the woodpeckers a nest. You can build a woodpecker nest and place it away from your home. Woodpeckers and flickers will defend the area around their nest, so other woodpeckers will stay away from your house.
When you cover the holes that were made to be a nest, just make sure there are no birds inside when you cover the holes. If there were birds in there when you covered the hole, they could peck their way into your home. There are many ideas to get rid of woodpeckers from making a racket and destroying your siding. Some people have tried all of these ideas and are still looking for a solution.
© 2010 Sam Montana
References and resources
Colorado State University Extension
Center for Wildlife Damage Management