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  • Writer's picturePauline Handy

Strategies To Deter Woodpecker Damage

The drumming of woodpeckers might be music to your ears — until your house or property is part of the pecking symphony. Discover why woodpeckers might target your home or property, and learn ways to prevent costly damage that insurance won’t cover.

Red-headed woodpecker pecking hole in tree

Woodpeckers drum surfaces to find food, construct homes, find mates and mark their territory. They’ll drum nearly anything that makes an appealing loud sound to proclaim their presence. This could be aluminum siding, metal mailboxes, fenceposts and chimney flues. It might include the wood siding on your home. At 20 pecks per second, their hammerlike beaks can cause serious noise and damage.

Unfortunately, home insurance won’t help you. Woodpeckers are considered an infestation and are excluded from coverage. There’s no endorsement for infestations, either.

Protecting your home from woodpeckers can be a pain in your ears and budget. Learn ways to make your house inhospitable to woodpeckers.

Most susceptible siding and areas

Softwoods like cedar and redwood sidings are a top pick for woodpeckers. Even wood composite materials aren’t safe if they contain a mix of untreated wood pulp. Woodpeckers prefer vertical surfaces they can grab onto, so watch for areas like:

  • Under eaves

  • Window frames

  • Trim corners and edging

  • Chimneys

  • Fencing

An early warning of insects

Insects are a woodpecker’s favorite meal. Sudden woodpecker activity could indicate another problem in your siding: burrowing insects like carpenter bees, termites, bore beetles or ants. Woodpeckers’ sensitive ears can detect insect movement deep inside trees and your siding. Their interest in your house could be revealing a hidden problem. Call your exterminator to check the exterior for signs of insect infestations. Once the insects are gone, the woodpeckers will go too.

Woodpecker prevention methods

Nothing is foolproof, but you can try some tips to deter these flighty woodworkers.

Siding materials. Vinyl, metal, masonry, cement board and treated wood siding tend to be harder and less susceptible to insect infestations. This decreases its appeal to woodpeckers. Some types of engineered wood can withstand extreme weather conditions, prevent rot and fungal decay, and resist insects.

Siding paint instead of stain. Woodpeckers prefer stained wood over painted. Painting instead of staining can be a deterrent.

House paint color. The exterior color of your home can contribute to its curb appeal and offer a line of defense against these feathered carpenters.

Woodpeckers prefer bold organic shades from nature like:

  • Brown

  • Light to medium grey

  • Forest green or dark green

  • Deep reds or reddish brown

  • Beige or grey taupe

Woodpeckers aren’t as attracted to these lighter colors:

  • White or cream

  • Light blue

  • Pale pink

  • Light green or sea green

  • Lemon or lighter yellow

  • Black or dark gray

If you’re in a highly forested area with many woodpeckers, an exterior paint change might help.

Landscaping. Shrubs and trees planted near the house provide tempting hideouts for woodpeckers. Keeping space between your home’s exterior and vegetation will help discourage them. You might have to resort to other options in a highly wooded area.

Feeding. This option is controversial. You could draw woodpeckers away from your home by installing suet feeders in your yard away from your home. On the other hand, you could entice them to take up residence and make a home near your house.

Reflective objects. Hanging shiny things like mylar, reflective tape or old CDs near affected areas like window corners or decks can deter woodpeckers. The reflected light disorients them and can discourage them from returning.

Netting. Covering susceptible sections of your house or nearby trees with a net creates a physical barrier without harming the birds.

Sound and light devices. Electronic devices that emit predator calls or light up (or both) can help scare woodpeckers away. You can find ones that stake into the ground or mount in trees. Remember that these deterrents might scare away other birds, too.

Metal strips. Attach narrow metal strips under the eaves of your home or on siding. The metal creates an unpleasant surface for the woodpeckers to land, disrupting their pecking pattern.

Decoy predators. You can install fake owl, hawk or fox statues to deter woodpeckers. But the woodpeckers might realize your decoys are not a threat if they haven’t moved, so you might need to relocate them every few days. Scare-eye deterrent balloons come in bright colors and simulate the large eyes of a predator, making woodpeckers uneasy. They also move with the wind to keep birds guessing.

Repair holes. Look for woodpecker holes in your siding and patch them regularly to discourage activity. For example, acorn woodpeckers collect and hoard acorns by tapping them into wood surfaces for winter feeding, but they usually prefer trees and fenceposts.

Dead trees. Woodpeckers prefer dead or dying trees to make their nests because they're easier to excavate than healthy trees. If it's not endangering people or property, consider leaving dead trees rather than felling them. Or remove part of the tree so it's no longer a hazard. Woodpeckers will probably choose the tree instead of your house.

Professional pest control. If you’ve had no luck with other methods, consider professional pest control services. They can help make your home less attractive to woodpeckers. But don't use poison or anything that can harm their delicate feathers like grease or oils. All species of woodpeckers are classified as migratory nongame birds and are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Woodpecker damage can be costly, affecting your home’s siding, protection from the elements and curb appeal. Start small and make modifications to see what deters your feathery woodworkers. Be consistent and try combining methods. With persistence, you can make your house unpleasant enough to make them take residence elsewhere.

V.F. McNeil Insurance is an independent insurance agency located in Branford, Connecticut. Our team works with residents and business owners and can provide customized insurance options for the risks faced by each. Contact us today with questions about your insurance needs (203) 481-2684.

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