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Under Attack! Are Woodpeckers Bothering Your House?

Every spring and fall I can count on daily phone calls from people who are under attack. The damage being done to their houses can cost them hundreds, even thousands of dollars. The noise, that constant tapping…all with no end in sight!

Of course you know I’m talking about woodpeckers, right?

There are a few reasons woodpeckers will bore into the sides of houses:

1) Finding food

2) Making a nesting cavity

3) Proclaiming territory

If they are finding food in your walls, you’ve got bigger problems than I can solve, but here are a couple of my recommended solutions to keep woodpeckers away from your home.

Male Red-bellied Woodpecker
Male Red-bellied Woodpecker

You main goal is to put something between the bird and the area of the house it is trying to get to. If the bird is coming to a specific area (only one hole) then you can try hanging something that will deter the bird from that spot: punch a hole on the rim of a tin plate and string it up so that it dangles in front of the problem spot. This will blow in the wind, reflect the sun and make some noise that will hopefully deter the woodpecker from coming back to that spot.

However, if the bird is covering an area larger than that, try tinfoil. Take as long a sheet of tinfoil as you need and cover the area the bird is visiting. It is easy to put up with pins or tacks. Both of these methods should only take a week or two to convince the woodpecker to move to a new area to feed/nest/drum.

The other, slightly more passive approach, is to find out what the bird needs. If it is looking for food (which means you probably have insects in your walls) you could put out suet feeders. If it is attempting to nest, then you should leave old and dying trees up in your yard. Give the birds what they need so they don’t have to turn to your house for those resources.

No matter how frustrating it may get, just remember your solution will probably be easier than when Israelis had to deal with Syrian Woodpeckers destroying their irrigation pipes.

– Doug

Doug Hitchcox headshotMeet Doug Hitchcox, Maine Audubon Staff Naturalist

A Maine native, Doug grew up in Hollis and graduated from the University of Maine in 2011. Throughout college Doug worked at Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center and was hired as Maine Audubon’s staff naturalist in the summer of 2013, a long time “dream job.” In his free time, Doug volunteers as one of Maine’s eBird reviewers, is the owner and moderator of the ‘Maine-birds’ listserv and serves as York County Audubon board member and Secretary of the Maine Bird Records Committee.