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It’s Hard to Discourage Woodpeckers!

By Chris Williams on April 18, 2012.

Q. We have a couple of woodpeckers that are pecking away at the soffits around the roof of our house. This started about a week ago and they’re at it every day. We try to chase them away but they’re right back. There are already quite a few big holes in the boards. What can we do?

woodpeckerA. Woodpeckers peck on buildings for one of two reasons: (1) In spring especially, male woodpeckers are “drumming” to establish territory and attract a mate. Wooden shingles, cedar or redwood siding, metal or plastic rain gutters, chimney caps, and light posts make especially satisfying drums for a woodpecker. (2) Woodpeckers are trying to pick insects out of the wood. Their favorite is carpenter bee larvae that are inside nests in the wood. Woodpeckers can detect the presence of the fat larvae inside the tunnels and will peck away at the wood trying to reach them. This may be the root of your problem since carpenter bees do like to nest in soffit boards.

Whatever the reason for the pecking, woodpeckers can do considerable damage. If, during their pecking, they create a considerable hole, they may try to enlarge it for a nest cavity. Fortunately for the birds, maybe unfortunately for you, woodpeckers are protected by federal law and you cannot kill them or disturb active nests. But you can sometimes repel woodpeckers away from your home or block them from reaching the areas where they are pecking. Repelling measures should be started as soon as woodpeckers start drumming since methods are much less effective after woodpeckers have established their territories.

1) Visual Repellents –Visual repellents such as owl and snake decoys have mixed results. The birds usually adapt to them fairly quickly. Some visual repellents that may work are those with movement or reflection. Mylar balloons, cardboard hawk silhouette mobiles hung from eaves, magnifying shaving mirrors nailed to siding, windblown mylar, black plastic or aluminum foil strips hung from eaves, and pinwheels are a few.

2) Sound Repellents –You can sometimes repel woodpeckers with noise but it takes a lot of work. Loud noises such as clapping, shouting, cap pistols, and banging on a metal garbage can lid can frighten woodpeckers if you are persistent and make noise each time the bird returns.

3) Exclusion –The least attractive, but most lasting, repelling method involves hanging netting or plastic sheeting over the site temporarily. Metal sheathing, flashing, or hardware cloth can be installed over small drumming sites. Monofilament fishing line or metal wire can be strung in front of or above landing and perching sites.

Fortunately, woodpecker problems are self-limiting. Once the spring mating season is over, the territorial drumming should cease. Once carpenter bee adults have emerged from the nest, woodpeckers should stop digging at it. If you’re troubled by woodpeckers or carpenter bees, or both, give us a call. Our trained technicians can block the woodpeckers and take care of the carpenter bees. At Colonial, we do it all.

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