Dealing with woodpecker damage

By Tom Phelan - ReminderNews
- posted Tue., Sep. 13, 2011
Contributed
- Contributed Photo

Along with squirrels, mice and insects, woodpeckers are among the least desirable natural houseguests.

They might take a liking to your house for one of several reasons. In the early spring months, they may be establishing a territory and/or setting up house. The pecking or drumming they do on almost any surface resonates for long distances to alert competitors that they are in their neighborhood. They will select only surfaces that maximize the resonance, so you might see them on your cedar shingles, redwood siding, plywood or pine, or even vinyl or aluminum siding, and they will even select an aluminum gutter or drainpipe.

The second reason for a woodpecker to drum on a wooden surface might be to establish a nest. They will hollow out the wood behind the surface, leaving a round or oval hole as large as 2 and a half inches in diameter.

As you might expect, woodpeckers most frequently seek out wooden surfaces that might be home to insects, such as carpenter bees, that will provide food. If you should see evidence of insect damage around the wood parts of your home, taking care of that problem will help avoid a potential woodpecker infestation. If the bird already regards your house as his own personal lunch counter, then you might expect to find multiple small holes close to one another, rather than a single large hole.

There are several actions you might take to control the infestation of woodpeckers. Killing the birds should be your last option, and, in fact, it may even be illegal to do so. Check with your local animal or wildlife control officer.

There are several visual repellents that may be effective. Plastic owls work for a while, but their stationary nature quickly becomes familiar to the woodpeckers. Silhouettes of hawks and other predatory birds and animals seem to be effective in many cases. Hang them as you would a mobile, so they can move with the breeze. They should be painted with a dark color. Odd though it may seem, fastening a shaving mirror or two around the holes should also discourage further activity. Hanging strips of shiny material near the area frequented by the woodpecker has a similar effect. Many sources of information on this topic also cite materials such as aluminum pie plates and pinwheels. Just visualizing all those solutions mounted on or around your home might also discourage you from living there. Your neighbors might laugh, until, of course, the woodpecker takes up residence next door.

If a woodpecker targets the overhanging area of your roof, stretching some netting from the edge of the roof back toward the wall will act as an effective barrier to its access. It might look somewhat unsightly, but it can be removed as soon as the woodpecker’s persistence wanes.

Various types of noise makers can be an effective annoyance to the birds, but something as loud as a carbide cannon might be taking it a bit too far. There are commercial solutions available that will periodically mimic the sound of predatory birds. While it might keep the unwanted flying guests away, that repetitious noise will most likely get tedious for you, your family and your neighbors.

Whatever solution you decide on, the important thing is to take action right away, before the bird gets settled in. Once they set up house, they will be harder to get rid of.

Severely damaged areas may require replacement of shingles, trim or siding. But using a putty that incorporates epoxy should work pretty well. It adheres to the existing wood, works well for filling large areas, and it can be sanded and formed before painting.

 


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