How to Get Rid of Woodpeckers

By Alex Hawkins Updated February 6, 2024

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Woodpeckers are a beautiful and fascinating part of our ecosystem, but when they start pecking away at the wooden structures of our homes, they become a nuisance. Their drilling can cause unsightly damage and lead to insect infestations and other problems.

We’ll cover how to get rid of woodpeckers, from DIY woodpecker deterrents to professional-grade solutions. We’ll also discuss the pros and cons of each method, including safety and cost considerations.



Effective Ways to Get Rid of Woodpeckers

Woodpeckers are known for their distinctive drumming sound and the damage they cause to wooden structures. Fortunately, there are several effective methods for preventing woodpeckers from damaging your property.

Loud Noises and Predator Sounds

One of the most effective ways to scare woodpeckers away is to create loud noises or play predator sounds. Woodpeckers are wary of loud and sudden noises that might signal danger. You can create loud noises by banging pots and pans or using an air horn. 

Alternatively, you can play predator sounds, such as owl or hawk calls, to make woodpeckers think they’re being hunted. These sounds work especially well when combined with woodpecker distress calls. Even wind chimes may help deter woodpeckers if you hang them near targeted areas.

Sounds are a relatively simple and cost-effective way to deter woodpeckers, and this method does not harm the birds. However, the loud noises may disturb your neighbors and can only be used during the daytime. Additionally, they may not work on all woodpeckers. Some woodpeckers will become accustomed to the noises over time or may not find them threatening.

Visual Deterrents

Shiny objects and streamers can disrupt a woodpecker’s flight path and create reflections that make the woodpecker think a predator is nearby. To use these visual deterrents, hang them near the area where woodpeckers are causing damage. Windsocks, old CDs, and helium balloons all work well. You can also use strips of aluminum foil, reflective tape, or pinwheels. Wind chimes work especially well because they double as a sound deterrent.

Alternatively, consider installing an owl or hawk decoy to scare away woodpeckers. Owls and hawks are natural predators of woodpeckers. Some owl decoys even have reflective eyes and rotating heads for added realism. You can find plastic owls and hawks on Amazon or at your local garden center.

Placing visual deterrents may be difficult if the woodpeckers have targeted an area high off the ground. Additionally, they may only work on some woodpeckers and may not be as effective in areas with high wind. However, some items that work as visual deterrents can also be an attractive addition to your home or garden.

Physical Barriers

Physical barriers create an obstacle that woodpeckers cannot penetrate or an uncomfortable surface to perch on. Simply hang bird netting, burlap, or chicken wire to keep the woodpeckers out. Ensure the netting is taut and hangs at least 3 inches from the wood. Alternatively, wrap aluminum foil around the damaged area. You can also plug any existing woodpecker holes with wood putty to discourage further pecking.

The biggest downside to physical barriers is that they can be unsightly. Depending on the location of the woodpecker damage, they may also be impractical, and they may need to be semipermanent to be effective.

Food Source Removal

Woodpeckers are attracted to areas with insect infestations and rotting wood. Removing these food sources can discourage woodpeckers from targeting your property. Spray insecticides or call an exterminator to address potential insect infestations. Cut down and haul away dead trees, and replace any rotting wood on your house or other structures.

In addition to removing woodpeckers, eliminating insect infestations and rotting wood will make your property safer and more enjoyable. However, removing food sources might not be practical or desirable in all situations. Insecticides can harm beneficial insects and may not be effective against all insects.

Nest Boxes

If you seek a more humane way to address your woodpecker problem, consider installing nest boxes. These boxes provide woodpeckers with a safe and comfortable place to nest, which can discourage them from creating nesting holes on your property. You can also provide alternative food, such as berry bushes, fruit trees, or a suet feeder, to draw them away from your home.

To install nest boxes, choose a location that’s away from the damaged area but still within the woodpecker’s natural habitat. Install the nest box according to the manufacturer’s instructions and provide the woodpecker with a food source, such as bird feeders.

Nesting boxes and alternate food sources won’t provide an immediate solution, as it may take the woodpeckers some time to find them. Some species of woodpecker may not use the nesting boxes at all.



Understanding Woodpeckers

Homeowners are often eager to deter woodpeckers, whether for the sound of their pecking, the damage they cause, or the risk they pose of attracting other pests, such as termites or carpenter bees. Understanding their behavior and habits will help you address the root cause of their attraction to your property and prevent future problems.

Woodpeckers are found in many parts of the world, including North America, Europe, and Asia. Their bright plumage, long beaks, and distinctive drumming sound make them easily recognizable. Unfortunately, though woodpeckers play a valuable role in the ecosystem, they can also cause significant damage to wooden structures, such as wood siding, eaves, fences, and utility poles.

Woodpeckers drill holes in wooden structures to create their nests, which can lead to structural damage over time. They are also attracted to wooden structures that are rotting and infested with insects, as they provide a food source.

As diurnal birds, woodpeckers are active during the day and rest at night. They are also territorial and will defend their territory against other birds, including other woodpeckers. Because woodpeckers are migratory birds with a strong attachment to their nesting sites, they will return to the same location year after year. That means if a woodpecker has established a roost on your property, then it’s likely to return and cause further damage.



Our Recommendation

Homeowners can choose from several simple but effective methods for deterring woodpeckers. The best option for your situation will depend on the type of woodpecker, the severity of the woodpecker damage, and the size of the affected area. Often, a combination of physical barriers, audiovisual deterrents, and alternate shelter and food sources works best. 

If the problem persists or the damage is severe, consider seeking the help of a professional pest control company. Terminix and Orkin are two highly reputable companies that offer solutions for deterring woodpeckers and addressing the insect infestations that draw them to your home. Both companies offer free inspections and consultations to help you determine the best course of action for your situation.



How to Get Rid of Woodpeckers FAQ

How do I permanently get rid of woodpeckers?

It can be difficult to remove woodpeckers permanently because they are territorial birds with a strong attachment to their nesting sites. Also, woodpeckers are one of the species protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), which means it is illegal to kill them. However, you can take several steps to discourage them from damaging your property:Eliminate insect infestations and rotting wood.Use a combination of visual and sound deterrents.Install physical barriers around affected areas.Provide alternative nesting sites and food sources.Consult with a pest control expert.

Why is a woodpecker pecking at my house?

A woodpecker may be pecking at your house for one of several reasons:Building a nestCommunicating with other woodpeckersEstablishing their territoryLooking for food

What smells do woodpeckers hate?

Like most birds, woodpeckers don’t have a well-developed sense of smell. However, strong and unfamiliar scents can act as bird repellents. Here are a few smells woodpeckers hate:BasilCinnamonCitronellaGarlicLavenderPeppermintRosemary

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