By Alex A. Kecskes
Woodpeckers are nice to look at but they can cause a lot of damage. They can hammer you building’s wooden shingles, cedar or redwood siding into “Swiss cheese.” And unless you find ways to get rid of woodpeckers, they’ll pummel your metal or plastic guttering until it leaks like a sieve. They’re also partial to light posts, wooden signs and some synthetic stucco exterior finishing. Plywood and Masonite are less attractive to woodpeckers, but they still will attack these materials, peppering them with unsightly holes.
Without effective measures to get rid of woodpeckers, these birds can hack all around an area, creating a large unsightly hole the size of a baseball. They can damage a roof rafter so severely that it will need to be reinforced with steel to make it structurally sound. Wood shakes or clapboard, synthetic stucco, chimney caps, aluminum flashing and even vinyl over wood are prime targets for woodpeckers. The woodpecker that does the most damage to buildings is the northern flicker (Colaptes auratus). If you spot one in flight, you’ll notice the yellow or salmon tint under the wings and tail feathers. So how do you get rid of woodpeckers? If you’re considering bird poisons or BB guns, forget it. Woodpeckers are a protected species, and the $500 fine you pay for killing them can poke a hole in your wallet faster than any woodpecker can drill into your siding. Fortunately, there are effective ways to deal with these birds that are quite humane. Some strategies:
Bird Scare Devices
These Bird Scare Deterrents are a fairly inexpensive way to get rid of woodpeckers. They’re the bright foils that crackle in the breeze, the reflective tape banners that whip about in the wind, and beach-ball size balloons with intimidating predator eyes that bob and weave to give woodpeckers the “willies.”
Hawk Decoys. Woodpeckers fear hawks, which unlike owls, hunt during the day. So one way to get rid of woodpeckers is to set up a hawk decoy or two. The hawks should be roughly 11 inches long with a 20- to 24-inch wingspan. For best woodpecker deterrent effect, hang the decoy from the eave of your building where your woodpeckers have been active. Use a thin, clear fishing line. To enhance the deterrent effect, attach a mirror that reflects the hawk and make sure your woodpecker(s) can see it from where they regularly perch.
Sonic Systems. You’ve no doubt chased away a woodpecker or two by clapping your hands or banging pots. But do you really want to stand there and bang pots all day? Better to get a Sonic Woodpecker Deterrent. These devices have successfully been used to drive away all manner of pest birds—including woodpeckers. They emit predator and distress calls that convince woodpeckers that yours is a danger zone filled with hawks and other flying predators. These sounds have been specially recorded to alarm woodpeckers, yet they are not unpleasant to humans. The best sonic bird deterrents can be programmed to emit distress and predator calls 24/7. You can also add speaker units to significantly widen the coverage area. Some systems will continually alter the pitch, frequency, timing and intensity of their sounds for maximum deterrent effect.