How to (Safely) Get Rid of Woodpeckers Attacking Your Home

Kimberly Cataudella The Charlotte Watcher

Every season is woodpecker season in North Carolina, so it’s not uncommon to hear a bird or two rapping on the trees near or outside your home.

Although the birds do the most damage between February and June (their breeding and territory establishment season), they can peck at any time of the year.

The region’s common suburban and urban woodpecker species — primarily the downy woodpecker and red-bellied woodpecker — are resident, meaning they stay in one place year-round, said state professor Christopher Moorman. of North Carolina and Associate Director of the Department of Forestry and Environment. Resources.

Woodpecker experts recently explained why birds love to peck your home and what to do to stop them.

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Woodpeckers only come into homes for two reasons, said Greg Batts, a biologist with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission: eating insects inside decaying wood and using the siding as a sounding board. , signaling other woodpeckers not to enter their territory.

“Woodpeckers don’t want other birds to take their resources, so their pecks tell other birds, ‘This is my place in the world,'” Batts said.

“Or, they’re targeting a soft wood siding that’s decaying, and the bugs are inside, so they know they’ll have a meal. It’s either a territory problem or a food problem.”

Moorman added, “They are not ‘invasive’, but rather can modify their individual behaviors to come into closer contact with houses, especially those with wood siding.”

How to get rid of them

First and foremost, treat your wood. This will ensure rotting wood won’t cause a safety issue on the road, and it will keep insects at bay, allowing birds to find another spot for snacks.

But there are also a few scaring tactics you can use to keep birds away without harming them, Batts said:

Water them with a water hose. Using a gentle setting and from a safe distance, spray the birds. But that might not keep the birds away in the long run, so try installing light fixtures that stay on your home.

Use mylar tape. It’s shiny, silver sliver, and woodpeckers don’t like reflective things.

Or a mylar balloon. Or even leftover Christmas garlands.

“The key is to have something reflective with a bit of movement,” Batts said.

Install an owl statue. But that won’t work in the long run, because the birds will quickly notice that the “bird” doesn’t do anything but sit there.

Use bird netting. You will typically use netting to block off the foil covering that the birds use for territorial calls.

“But instead of protecting your whole house, treat your wood,” Batts said. “Seal the wood, that way insects can’t get in, and there’s no reason for a woodpecker to come in either.”

What you should not do

In short: do not hurt them.

The birds are federally protected because they’re endangered, so people shouldn’t do anything to reduce an already small population, Batts said.

Don’t shoot them. Even with softer bullets, like BB guns or paintball pellets.

Do not throw hard objects. It could break a bird’s wing or spine.

If your home methods don’t work, call the US Fish & Wildlife Service. They might be able to get a permit to euthanize the bird, Batts said.

“If you call Fish & Wildlife first, they’ll tell you to try all the things I’ve already shared before issuing any type of permit,” he said. “This process takes months, and if they issued a permit, they wouldn’t move the animal – whatever it does to your house, it may just do to someone else.”

What they like

The Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management – ​​a resource recommended by Moorman – breaks down the materials that woodpeckers prefer:

  • Birds love cedar and redwood siding, but they damage pine, fir, cypress, and others that are available.
  • They prefer natural or stained wood to painted.
  • They typically target new homes, especially those with rustic-looking channeled plywood with cedar or redwood veneers.
  • They are known to damage plastic used for rooftop solar heating and electrical panels.

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