Ways To Get Rid of Woodpeckers: What They Eat, Why They Peck

If you have cedar siding installed on your home, you might already have had this bird visit it, and within long, you start noticing the holes that they may be creating holes in the material you spent significant amounts of money having installed by professional siding contractors. Stop the madness!

While cedar makes a beautiful siding material, it does have the disadvantage of drawing some unwanted attention, and if your pergola or porch was made from the material, those are also likely to get undesired attention.

two woodpeckers

The easiest way to get rid of woodpeckers is naturally to call exterminators and have them deal with the bird, however there are a lot of things that you can do in order to try and make sure they leave your home alone.

In this article, we’ll answer a lot of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to woodpeckers and why they choose to make your home theirs. First of all, let’s look at why they actually have the annoying habit that they have.

Why do Woodpeckers Peck the Wood on Houses?

There are 5 common reasons why the woodpecker will peck the wood on your house. Understanding these can in fact help you avoid additional damage caused by them.

  1. They could be storing food. Woodpeckers are known to store food in trees and houses, where they’ll create a hole sufficiently big for an acorn. The holes aren’t sightly and
  2. There are insects inside your siding that it is trying to get to. The size of the hole will be smaller in that case and when there are insects living in your wood siding, you will also want to have that addressed and get those insects dealt with professionally. Carpenter bees are among their preferred meal.
  3. In the beginning of the breeding season they’re looking to build nests or roost holes. This will also mean they’re working on a bigger hole than if they were simply looking for insects. Be on the lookout for these holes towards the end of April. Before or after this period is the best time to get rid of them.
  4. The noise helps attract a mate. When they’re just looking for food, they won’t be drumming, but the sound that is created is used to attract a mate too.
  5. For territorial purposes.

Types of Woodpeckers

There are many different types of this impressive, yet annoying bird. BirdEden put out a more extensive guide on the different types that you may be able to see with a vast amount of pictures.

There’s more than 180 different species of this bird that vary greatly in size from roughly 4 to 20 inches in size. Since they drum somewhere between 8,000-12,000 times per day, you would imagine that they would have a serious headache by now, although their thick skull helps in protecting them from the constant impact.

What Sound Does a Woodpecker Make?

The sound made by the bird is very distinctive since they will peck at a rate of roughly 20 times per second against wooden materials.

What do Woodpeckers Eat?

woodpecker

The different species of the bird will eat different things, where some are more fond of insects, others prefer fruits and nuts. Again some eat sap from trees as their main diet.

They generally tend to go for the easiest to find food that they like, and since that changes over the course of the year, they’ll also adjust their diet accordingly. You might be surprised to know that none of the species in fact eat wood, despite the word being part of their name.

Seeds and berries are also food sources for the birds. During the spring, they often go after sap which is the easier food source for them to find, while they will switch over to insects later on in the spring and going into the summer.

Diseases They Can Transfer

It’s not very common for this animal to transfer disease, however it is by no means impossible either, which simply just adds to the reason why you ought to do something about them and make sure that they’re not pecking away at your home. Some of the diseases they can transfer include:

  • Histomlasmosis – it’s a respiratory disease caused by fungus living in the dropping coming from the animal.
  • E. coli
  • Salmonella
  • West Nile virus

The bird itself is very harmless to humans, although they can be annoying. The feces are what can be causing problems.

How Do You Attract Them?

If you wish to attract them to your backyard to study them, or perhaps rather to try and lure them away from your home, there are certain things that might be useful. The only issue is that they often won’t actually be pecking away at your wood for food reasons, and if that isn’t the case, providing an alternative food source may not suffice.

Here are some of the foods you can try to attract them for whatever purpose you have in mind.

  • Jelly
  • Nectar
  • Mealworms
  • Peanutbutter
  • Seeds

Do You Have an Infestation?

They’re pretty good at finding roof trusses and other wood elements, so you will need to regularly inspect your home if you want to make sure that you find their nests. In their breeding season, between March and May, is when you will want to be especially on the lookout for them. Make sure to also check your attic for nests or other signs that birds have been visiting it. Holes in the wood may be an indication that you have more guests in your house. They’re usually in the roof line or siding, but make sure to check the pergola and other wooden structures too.

woodpecker sitting on a tree

Make sure to look up higher since that is usually where you’ll be finding signs of the damage they have done.

How Do You Kill Woodpeckers?

The answer is you can’t kill woodpeckers because they’re protected, so doing so would be illegal. It also means you’re not allowed to harm them either and that initiatives that would do so are in fact illegal. We’re just letting you know this so that you stay out of trouble.

What Animal Predators Eat Woodpeckers?

While it’s illegal for you to kill woodpeckers, they do have natural animal predators that can be kept which may not be able to eat them but will scare them off. The issue is that a good amount of their natural predators you might not actually enjoy having as co-residents.

Some of the animals that will eat woodpeckers include snakes, foxes, rats, large birds and wild cats. Having these predators around will also help keep down the number of birds since they will also feed on the bird’s eggs.

Is Woodpecker Damage Covered by Insurance?

Unfortunately, chances are that the damage that the woodpecker caused isn’t covered by your homeowners insurance, no matter if it was in the pergola, siding or somewhere else.

These policies are usually designed to only pay out when there has been a catastrophic event, and while woodpeckers are annoying, you can’t claim that they’re catastrophic. The good thing is that woodpeckers traditionally won’t cause structural damage such as damage to your home’s frame but merely cosmetic damage.

While your insurance may cover something for other types of home repairs, it’s generally only in the cases where proper maintenance was not expected to be able to avoid the problem, and this issue doesn’t usually fall in that category.

Where these birds can become a serious problem is if they start going after your air duct lines or plumbing.

How Can I Get Rid of Woodpeckers On My House?

There is a bunch of reported ways that you can use in order to get rid of woodpeckers. We have included all the different methods that we came across.

  1. Use a metal whistle when you notice them. Simply using a simple metal whistle was enough to scare the woodpeckers off and not have them return again. Is it sure it will keep working? Maybe not, but is it a good first try? Definitely!
  2. Slamming the chimney damper. It’s only reported to have worked temporarily. Perhaps it’s not enough sound to scare them off for good, or whatever they were after inside the siding was just too tempting.
  3. Use reflective streamers. The birds apparently don’t seem to like the effect it creates as it’s been proven to consistently help deter woodpeckers from making your home theirs.
  4. Installing a life-sized artificial owl. Even if it only at best has some efficacy, isn’t it at least worth trying it out?
  5. Install vinyl siding instead of wood. You can even install vinyl siding on top of wood siding without the need to take it down, but once the bird tries pecking in vinyl, aluminum or something else, they’ll usually give up pretty quickly. Replacing your siding with a non-wood option is perhaps the best way to get rid of woodpeckers permanently once they find out that your home’s exterior is no longer made of wood. Although they have very strong beaks, this will usually keep them away.
  6. Use a windsock. The movement of the bird may help keep them away. It should be installed near where you have been having problems with them.
  7. Shiny things in general may help keep them away. This includes aluminum objects that can be hung along where they hang out. There is the risk that the bird finds out that the object you hung isn’t in fact dangerous to it at which point they may simply choose to ignore it and keep going on.
  8. Using bird feeders and placing them further and further away from the house. When you start noticing the bird using it instead of using your home, move it away slightly so that you hopefully get the bird to realize that it shouldn’t be using your house for its various purposes, whether it’s to find food or something else.
  9. Hang pieces of aluminum where the woodpecker seems to come back. If replacing your siding isn’t an option, try hanging an aluminum sheet where the bird seems to be returning to to deter it from going to that spot.
  10. Install something that emits sound that repel them.
  11. Use steel wool or chicken wire where the birds keep coming back. This material will also stop them from returning to that spot.
  12. Mylar tape wrapped around soffits and gutters may have the same effect as other bright, wavy elements and keep the birds away.
  13. Mylar balloons are also things you’re able to hang which may discourage the bird from taking a go at your house.
  14. Show off your inner patriot with a flag. Big, wavy cloths and things will help keep the birds away. Find out where you have the biggest problem with the birds and hang it there.
  15. Wind chimes may  disturb the birds too. You may either be one of the people that love or hate the device is but the truth is it has helped some homeowners get the birds to go away. Maybe it could work for you too.
  16. Reduce the noise by using sound insulation. Since the woodpeckers may be having an interest in your siding because it creates a lot of sound, you might be able to discourage their pecking behavior by installing material that will lessen the sound from the beaks.
  17. Make sure there are no insects in your siding that they’re interested in. When they find out that your siding is full of tasty, delicious food, wouldn’t you come back also? If your siding is full of insects, those insects not only feed the birds but also do damage to your property. Properly maintaining your home’s siding can limit its vulnerability to insects and thereby woodpeckers too. Termites can also cause structural damage if there are enough of them and they are simply left by themselves at which point you will need a carpenter to come out and rectify the damage.

woodpecker

The Importance of Repairing the Damage They Caused

It’s always a good idea to make sure that you have actually managed to get rid of the birds before you start repairing the wood that they damaged, or you will simply find yourself continuously running around to work on getting rid of them. Although filling the holes might make them slightly less noticeable, the birds will easily just come back and make new ones. Remember that they peck upwards of 12,000 times per day? You covering up their holes without taking steps to keep them away almost seems like an invitation to find out who gets tired first.

Small holes can simply be filled using spray foam insulation. When it goes into the hole, it expands and seals it off nice and tightly. When you use it, you will want to be careful in not applying too much or it will simply go everywhere. You can get foams that expand less than others. Afterwards, use a wood filler to make completely fill the rest of the hole and make it even. Excess material can be removed using sanding. The final step is to paint over the hole. If you had previously either stained or painted your siding, you will want all areas to be so again. If the bird broke through the seal, this area will otherwise be prone to moisture damage.

Pest Control Companies Have More Options

In order to kill the birds, you will need to get a permit, which is why we encouraged you to seek professional help if the problem persists since they have access to different methods you aren’t traditionally allowed to use as a homeowner.

Bird control is just one of the things done by pest control companies, and if you have tried the methods above and still haven’t had any luck, now might be the time to pursue other ideas such as getting a pro in. The pro will start out by looking around and figuring out what is most likely to cause the bird to come back, if it’s just one, and it simply could be that it’s a major insect infestation that you didn’t know about.

If that’s the case, the bird actually helped you in detecting what could otherwise have become an even more serious problem. When it’s been determined that visual deterrents hasn’t been working, they can opt for lethal ones.

Enjoying a Woodpecker-Free Home, At Last

While it may seem tedious, chances are that if you don’t do anything about it, those little birds will simply keep making holes in your house. Taking action is really what’s required for the problem to be taken care of, and when it has been handled, you’ll now be able to breathe a sigh of relief not having to hear that loud, banging noise anymore.