This week I received an email from a reader asking for my advice to help her stop a woodpecker from drilling holes in the side of her house. It’s a problem that’s very common in our area and one that should be dealt with quickly before a few holes become an unsightly, and expensive problem.
Woodpeckers are attracted to homes for a few reasons. The most obvious one is that they are looking for food and think a delicious meal could be hiding under wood shakes or siding. Another popular reason is that they are looking for places to build a nest, and a crevice or corner of your home could likely provide the perfect shelter. Finally, there is a behavior called drumming which woodpeckers engage in as a way to mark their territory or attract a potential mate. This action generally occurs during the spring, prior to breeding season.
Regardless of the reason, a woodpecker’s pecking is a nuisance, especially when it’s waking you up in the early morning hours and doing a number to your home. So how do you get rid of them? It’s important to know that woodpeckers are a federally protected bird, so by law, you should not engage in any activity to harm them. Plus, woodpeckers are very beneficial birds that feed on insects such as wood-boring ants and grubs. Luckily there are a few simple and inexpensive solutions that will work to keep them away from your property without causing them any harm.
Woodpeckers don’t like shiny, reflective objects so installing some aluminum flashing, metalized Mylar tape, small mirrors, or even aluminum foil will deter them. You can find rolls of flash tape for less than $10 online or in your local hardware store.
A scary eye balloon is a small inflatable ball that mimics the look of an owl, one of the woodpecker’s feared predators. By hanging this balloon on an awning, you can scare the little troublemakers away from the house and back to the trees where they belong.
A similar tool that I’ve seen is an “attack spider” which is a silly looking, battery operated spider the size of a plate that can be hung on an awning or ledge above where the woodpecker is doing damage. The spider is noise-activated and will drop down after the first few taps, scaring the woodpecker away and out of sight.
Netting is another popular solution that works because it doesn’t allow the birds to land in their desired area. Netting is a bit more expensive and will take some time to install, but it’s lightweight and made from plastic, which means it’s a bit more durable and will last through the seasons. Bird experts recommend installing a ¾ inch net and placing it at least three inches from the house’s exterior surface.
There are also a number of topical sprays and paints that can be used to deter woodpeckers which work similarly to nail biting or thumb sucking solutions. These products emit a smell and taste to deter birds without harming them.
Finally, you could set up a suet feeder. Woodpeckers love suet and if the bird that’s damaging your home is looking for food, providing suet in a feeder away from the house will give them what they’re looking for without having to work for it.
Now it’s time to hear from you. Have you found a safe method to get rid of problematic woodpeckers? I’d love to learn more, so send me a message on Facebook at facebook.com/odonnellbros or drop me an email.
Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to email@example.com with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.