Pecker Problems

Ah, the sounds of spring peepers-peeping, the bees-buzzing, the birds chirping and the Ratta tat tat of that darn woodpecker on the side of my house.

hairy woodpecker
hairy woodpecker

There is a strange phenomenon that happens at my house every Spring. A woodpecker comes and pays us a visit. Like any good uninvited guest he usually comes at 5 o’clock on Saturday morning. In this area it is not uncommon to have woodpeckers banging on a tree or even a house with wood siding but my house has vinyl siding and aluminum flashing, not wood. If this has ever happened at your house, I am sure after some unmentionable thoughts go through your mind, you settle on the real question, why is that crazy bird at my house? I am here to put your mind at ease. In the Spring and Fall male wood peckers are on the search for a mate.

The male woodpeckers will drum on resonate surfaces. On my house it happens to be the aluminum gutter right outside my bedroom window, but it could be a hollow tree, chimney flashing, aluminum or wood siding. The scientists call it a “light drumming”. It is not so light at 5 am. Of course this is not the only reason that the woodpecker could be paying you a visit. One of the primary food sources for Woodpeckers is insects. Gaps in wood siding or the wood trim can attract carpenter bees, wasp, carpenter ants and other insect that like to bore into soft wood. Our noise friends are always on the search for one of these juicy morsels. Woodpeckers are territorial and will tend to stay close to the nesting area for most of the year.

woodpecker damage
Woodpecker damage – photo credit alpine wildlife control

The next question is, how do you stop them? Well in my situation, the very eager male bird usually stops after about a week or when he finds himself a girlfriend. If this is not your case then other steps should be taken. First thing to be done is seal up the holes with wood putty or other sealant and try to close up openings, followed by a inspection from a certified pest control company. Next you want to deter the woodpecker activity. Some have had success with shiny bird tape or old CDs on string. If you have access to the area by ladder you might want to try to hang bird fencing or a light deer fence over the area that is being damaged. The sound of clapping hands or from two pieces of wood can sometimes scare them away. In an aggressive attack there are suggestions to use the sound of distressed birds and other woodpeckers or the sound of predatory birds such as Hawks and Owls. Once the bird has been discouraged and found other sources of food they may stay away.

It is important to try to seal up the openings in the siding and trim. Openings left untreated will encourage future drilling and can leave your home exposed to the elements. Though is can be tempting to take a more drastic measure, most woodpeckers are protected animals. For more information check out this article from the DEP: Woodpecker Nuisance Problems