Woodpeckers naturally roost, nest, and find food in both living and dead trees. Light poles, barns, or houses just seem like dead trees to them. Houses and buildings with wood exteriors have the highest likelihood of being damaged by woodpeckers. However, they also can damage homes made of stucco or similar material. Woodpeckers damage buildings by drumming and drilling. Both are territorial behaviors and may occur in fall and spring. Woodpeckers can damage buildings in search of insects.
Remove attractants, including bird feeders, suet, and dead trees.
Repair damage promptly. Cover or plug holes immediately and repair them once damage has stopped.
Frighten woodpeckers off using bright, shiny objects that move and reflect light (e.g., Bird Scare Flash Tape, Bird Flasher, Scare Eyes, Octopus Bird Scarer, etc.). Suspend the reflective material near damaged areas. Adding loud noise, such as an air horn, board clapping, or electronic bird alarm emitting species-specific distress calls may increase effectiveness. Note: many birds will quickly learn to ignore alarm devices over time when no threat is detected. Other visual scare tactics that are sound- or motion-activated may help frighten the birds away.
Lightweight bird netting can be one of the most effective methods of keeping woodpeckers from damaging wooden structures. Place netting over the area that is attracting them. Leave at least three inches of space between the netting and the building surface so that birds cannot reach the building through the mesh. Be sure to secure the netting so that the birds can’t get behind it. Net all affected areas in this manner. Repair and paint or treat all damage quickly.
Metal or plastic sheathing can be placed over or on the damaged areas to prevent additional damage. Sheathing can be disguised with paint or simulated wood grain to match the siding and make it more aesthetically pleasing. Once woodpecker activity is curtailed, repair the damaged sites quickly.
Sticky repellents are not recommended as they can get on a bird’s plumage, impairing its ability to fly and stay warm. Moreover, they can darken and stain wood siding and cause dirt to stick to the surface where applied.
Efforts to disperse woodpeckers should be initiated at the first sign of damage and repeated when necessary to frighten and condition birds to avoid the area.