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How to Get Rid of Woodpeckers: A Guide for Homeowners

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how to get rid of woodpeckers

Woodpeckers can cause substantial damage to your property.

If you’ve noticed woodpeckers in or near your home, you must act quickly to avoid holes and other costly repairs.

Fortunately, we’re here to help.

With more than 15 years of experience in the pest control industry, we understand how to protect your home by deterring woodpeckers ethically and effectively.

Before You Get Started

Set yourself up for success by doing these things before you get started:

  • Learn the law. Almost all native bird species in the United States, including woodpeckers (classified as migratory, non-game birds), are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which was signed into law in 1918. According to this law, homeowners have the right to maintain their property and prevent unnecessary woodpecker damage while also being liable for the illegal removal of protected species. While the law permits woodpeckers (other than the endangered red-cockaded and ivory-billed woodpecker) to be killed, this can only be done under a permit issued by the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Law Enforcement Division. That said, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act does outline legal removal methods on a case-by-case basis, so be sure to contact your local Fish and Wildlife Department for more information. It’s important to note that methods of reducing woodpecker damage that do not include killing the birds do not infringe on their protected status. In some states, you may also need a state permit to remove woodpeckers.
  • Plan according to season. The best time to begin your woodpecker control efforts is late winter. Since woodpeckers are most active between February and June, acting during late winter will allow you to address the problem before a new batch of birds moves in.
  • Consider hiring a professional. If the woodpecker problem is persistent or severe, consider consulting a wildlife control professional who is knowledgeable about humane and legal removal methods and can help you get rid of the birds without harming them or breaking any laws.

6 Ways to Get Rid of Woodpeckers on Your House

bird netting

Exclusion

Installing barriers to keep woodpeckers away from your siding or wood structures is the most effective way to prevent woodpecker damage.

Here’s what we recommend:

1. Use Bird Netting

Position lightweight mesh nylon or plastic netting beneath the eaves and over your siding.

To secure the netting, attach it to the overhanging eaves and angle it back toward your siding, extending below the area you want to protect.

Pull the netting taut before securing it.

When installed correctly, bird netting is minimally visible and will keep woodpeckers away from siding, trim, and other high-interest areas.

2. Install Metal and Plastic Barriers

Use sheathing materials like aluminum flashing over areas you want to protect.

Attaching heavy plastic sheeting or drop cloths to your wooden surfaces is one option.

This will prevent woodpeckers from being able to cling to the side of the building and peck into the wood.

If you intend to use this method, be aware that applying the plastic barrier works best as soon as you notice woodpecker damage.

Alternatively, you can install aluminum flashing, which is easy to use to cover damaged sites.

That said, woodpeckers can peck through aluminum if they can get a foothold on the material.

3. Cover all Cracks and Holes

If you have existing woodpecker damage on your siding, use quarter-inch hardware cloth or welded wire material to cover the area.

For best results, attach the wire to 1” wood spacers, which raise the wire surface outward from your wood siding.

If you’d like, you can spray-paint the wire to match the color of your building. Be sure not to place any exclusion material over wall-cavity holes until you’re sure the cavity does not contain an active nest with live young.

Repellents

Several visual and auditory repellents may be effective at deterring woodpeckers.

Here are a few we recommend:

4. Visual Repellents

While owl and snake decoys tend to be ineffective, visual repellents that move, like toy plastic twirlers, windmills, or pie pans, may be used with success – especially if you place them as soon as you notice woodpecker damage.

Here are a few other examples of repellents that may work:

  • Old CDs
  • Aluminum foil strips
  • Mylar balloons
  • Reflective tape
  • Garden spinners

5. Auditory Repellents 

Loud noises, like hand clapping, shooting off a toy cap pistol, or banging on the lid of a metal garbage can may scare woodpeckers off. Hanging wind chimes in the area may also work.

If you continue to harass the bird every time it returns, you may succeed in getting the woodpecker to leave for good.

That said, this is a time-consuming tactic that may only be feasible for some homeowners.

6. Tactile Repellents

Some repellents use a tacky surface to protect wood siding.

When the birds land on the surface, they dislike the sticky footing.

While these repellents don’t trap or harm the bird, they may discourage woodpeckers from returning.

However, if you intend to use these repellents, be aware that some can discolor painted or natural wood siding, and others may melt and cause streaks in warm weather.

Methods to Avoid

No matter how badly you want to get rid of woodpeckers, you should avoid any method that can harm the birds, including toxicants, trapping, and shooting. 

Harming woodpeckers is not only unethical – it’s also illegal. 

If repellents and exclusion tactics aren’t resolving your woodpecker issue, contact a professional pest management company for more help. 

How to Prevent Woodpeckers From Returning

  • Keep your wooden exteriors in good shape – promptly repair any holes or woodpecker damage. 
  • Install a physical barrier like bird spikes where woodpeckers commonly perch.
  • Hire a professional to eliminate wood-boring insect infestations that may be attracting woodpeckers.
  • Remove any dead or decaying trees in the vicinity of your home.
  • If you have a garden, clean up any fallen fruits or nuts, as these can also attract woodpeckers.
  • Provide alternative attractants, like suet, near damaged buildings. This may lure birds away from the building.

How do Professionals Get Rid of Woodpeckers?

how professionals get rid of woodpeckers

Are you considering hiring a professional pest management company to get rid of woodpeckers? 

Here’s what you can expect:

Step 1: Initial Consultation

Most pest professionals kickstart every project with a thorough phone consultation and an on-site inspection. 

During this phase, the team will pinpoint the areas where woodpeckers are nesting or foraging for food. 

They’ll also assess the extent of woodpecker damage on your property and identify the specific species present.

Step 2: Action Plan

Based on the team’s findings, they’ll develop a comprehensive management plan that incorporates practical, natural, humane, and holistic methods. This plan will ensure effective woodpecker control and prevention.

Step 3: Follow-Up

Once the initial woodpecker treatment is completed, the team will return to your property for follow-up treatments, as necessary, until the woodpecker infestation has been completely resolved. 

Are Woodpeckers Destroying Your Property? We’re Here to Help

If your DIY woodpecker removal efforts haven’t worked, or you just want more help, it may be time to call the professionals. 

Fortunately, we’re here to help. We work with a network of reputable, local pest professionals who can put an end to your woodpecker problem with humane, effective tactics. 

Contact us at (844) 532-0076, and we’ll put you in contact with one of our trusted partners in your area!

zachary smith no bg

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Woodpecker Control FAQs

Woodpeckers (scientific name Picidae) are a distinct family of birds characterized by their strong beaks, sturdy bodies, short legs, and stiff tail feathers. 

The size of adult woodpeckers varies by species, ranging from about 7”-15” in length. Most woodpeckers have brightly contrasted black and white feathers, and males of the species usually have red on their heads. 

The most defining feature of a woodpecker is the sharp, pointed beak. This beak is designed for boring into wood in search of insects, so it is stronger and more elongated than other bird species. Woodpeckers also have a unique tongue, which extends about 2-3 times the length of their beak and is used to extract insects from within the tree bark.

Woodpeckers are primarily attracted to homes due to the availability of food, shelter, and nesting sites. 

Most woodpeckers feed on insects that live in wood or trees, such as ants, beetles, and larvae. Because of this, houses with wood siding or shingles that harbor these pests are attractive targets. 

Woodpeckers are also drawn to homes in search of places to drum, a rhythmic pecking behavior used to communicate and establish territory, especially during the mating season. 

While most woodpeckers prefer to drum on resonant materials like dead tree trunks or limbs, they will use buildings and utility poles when available. 

Furthermore, if your home has features similar to their natural nesting sites, like cylindrical cavities or hollows in trees, woodpeckers might find it attractive for nesting. 

Signs of woodpecker damage can be quite evident if you know what to look for. The most common indication is the presence of small to medium-sized holes in the wooden structures of your home. These holes are often round or oval in shape, reflecting the bird’s drilling action. 

You may also notice a pattern of these holes, as woodpeckers tend to work systematically. In severe cases, you might see larger holes that woodpeckers have created for nesting. 

Additionally, you may hear a consistent tapping or pecking sound, particularly during the early morning hours. Paint or wood chips near the base of the structure can also be a sign of woodpecker activity. Regular inspection for these signs can lead to early detection and prevention of further damage.

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Author Bio: Zachary Smith

Zachary Smith is the founder of PestDude.com. Zachary is a licensed pest control professional with 20+ years of hands on experience eradicating pests from homes and businesses. Zachary earned his Bachelor of Science from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2002. He specializes in rodent and insect infestation management of structures and landscapes. His passion is to share his extensive knowledge with the world.

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