Tap-tap-tap. Tap-tap-tap. Tap-tap-tap.
I cringe when I hear these sounds.
For more than a year, this cute hairy woodpecker has been taunting me (want to know what it looks like? Go to my Background Information on Woodpeckers page for more info).
With its persistent pecking, it has managed to do some significant damage to my cedar siding.
As tempting as it may be, you can’t simply start blasting them away (whether you use a pellet gun, shot gun, etc) because woodpeckers are protected species (Why is woodpecker pecking on my house),
Is there are better solution than killing bunch of woodpeckers? Based on my personal experience, I think so. The only real solution is to make your house uninviting so that they will move on to another location (hopefully a tree, not to another home).
I am going to review some deterrents, repellents, alternative food source, etc to see what works and what doesn’t work.
Removing the Attractant
If you think you have bug issues, the obvious first step is to confirm and eliminate insects. Even though the outside of the wood may look fine, the inside might be rotting (want to see examples? Read my previous post How I Replaced A Rotted Rim Joist And Sill Plates).
You will need to contact a local pest extermination company to see if you have insect infestation in your wood siding.
Because woodpeckers have poor senses of taste and smell, taste and odor repellents are generally ineffective.
Repellents that are sticky or tacky to the touch and applied with a caulk gun over a broad area where damage has occurred may discourage the birds. However, these sticky substances have several
- They can coat the woodpecker’s feathers, impairing its ability to fly or keep warm; or other birds may become coated or entrapped
- Some may stain or discolor siding and other surfaces
- They can attract and hold dust and dirt
- They may melt and become runny in warm weather and turn brittle in cold weather. Cold weather may make it impossible to apply the repellent at all
BeakGuard Woodpecker Deterrent Paint
BeakGuard Woodpecker Deterrent paint is made by a company called Bird-B-Gone. It is an acrylic elastomeric finish that is applied to surfaces like wood, stucco, fiber-cement, vinyl or aluminum. It comes in 4 colors: Nova White, Whetstone, Sand Stone and Portabello. This paint is supposed to be an effective deterrent to send a warning signal to noisy woodpeckers.
ECO-SAFE WOOD GUARD (click here for detailed product info) is used to prevent ad treatment of wood boring insects like termites, carpenter ants, etc. This product is supposed to be highly effective against termites, carpenter ants, carpenter bees, beetles and decay fungi (rot).
Positive feature of this product is that it is environmentally friendly, non-toxic and VOC Free which means it can be used indoor space (i.e. attic). Although it says one easy application penetrates wood forever, no scraping and flaking, you may need to reapply it time to time.
Bird B Gone MMTBG Transparent Bird Gel
Bird-B-Gone tube (click here for detailed product info) contains transparent gel consisting of polybutane. Each tube of bird gel will treat an area approximately 10 foot long by 3 inches wide, and can last up to six months outdoors.
The product is basically an invisible sticky gel to divert birds away from the applied area. In my opinion, this product has the potential to kill birds in a very inhumane way and thus, I cannot recommend this product, even if the manufacturer says it is safe for birds.
Preventing woodpeckers from accessing and continuing to damage an area can be done using a variety of exclusion materials.
The easiest and least expensive alternative is to cover the affected area with plastic bird netting (like this one) which is readily available at local garden centers (the kind that is generally sold in rolls to protect vegetables).
Some Rolls are large enough to cover the entire side of a house. The netting is usually black, nearly invisible from a distance and it is quite durable.
If you are going with this solution, just make sure to suspend it from a roof-line, soffit or other overhang so that it stays a few inches away from the wood siding. Otherwise, if it is attached directly to the wood, the woodpeckers can simply hang onto it and peck through the mesh.
For smaller areas, a hardware cloth, wire mesh less than 0.25-inch mesh size or even sheet metal can be applied directly to the wood.
Metal products can also be painted to match the house color. It may take a while for the woodpeckers to stop visiting the damaged area, so plan to leave the exclusion material in place for 2-3 weeks.
Sheet metal placed over an area that has suffered prolonged or chronic damage can be left in place indefinitely.
Persistence is very important when using harassment techniques – you cannot frighten the bird away once and expect the problem to be solved. Harass or scare the bird whenever you see it on the house. You may need to do this multiple times every day for 2-3 weeks.
Bird-X BirdXPeller® PRO Electronic Bird Repeller for Woodpeckers
BirdXPeller is a sonic (sound) woodpecker control system that helps to remove woodpeckers by emitting natural predator call sounds to scare away woodpeckers. It is safe and humane way to effectively drive away woodpeckers.
BirdXPeller has a strong speaker to emit sound to cover up to 1 acre. Very good to use if you live in a rural area. Otherwise, your neighbors might complain.
Hoont Powerful Electronic Outdoor/Indoor Animal, Rodent and Pest Repeller – Motion Activated [UPGRADED VERSION]
The Hoont™ Electronic Animal Repeller (click here for detailed product info) blasts a range of powerful ultrasonic sound, audible sound, and flashing LED strobe lights to scare away a wide variety of outdoor pests.
Equipped with an infrared motion sensor, the pest repeller has an optional mode of activating when it senses motion, or it can run continuously.
This newly upgraded powerful version features enhanced power and effectiveness that will expel even the most aggressive animals from your property. The sound is powerful enough to cover up to 5,000sq feet and uses a single 9V battery.
Mylar Tape / “Eye” Balloons
With its shiny surface and owl eyes, they are effective at driving away woodpeckers. It’s just that I consider them to be an eyesore. I haven’t done any long-term tests but I would imagine that long, floating tape will get tangled up during heavy storms.
Suet (like this DD-24 Woodpecker Suet made by Heath Outdoor Products) cake may be used to lure woodpeckers away from damaged areas, especially if they are looking for food. However, if the woodpeckers are involved in cavity excavation or drumming, putting out suet may actually attract more woodpeckers and possibly create a larger problem (yikes!).
If you decide to try luring woodpeckers away from damaged areas using suet, please be vigilant and remove the suet if it appears that you are attracting additional woodpeckers.
Regular suet should not be used during warm weather, as it becomes soft and will mat the woodpeckers’ feathers, making it difficult for the birds to fly and keep warm and dry. The one I mentioned here stays solid in all seasons.
I know it’s kind of silly, but I feel bad about kicking out my woodpecker. I am not sure how effective it will be, but I am going to build a woodpecker bird house see if he (or she) is willing to take up residence. I will post a blog as soon as I make it (hopefully by next week as the weather is getting colder).
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