by Alex A. Kecskes

You take great pride in the appearance of your home. You paint it, replace or repair the siding, and maintain the shutters. After all that work and expense, you don’t need woodpeckers defacing your home with holes and unsightly marks. But it can happen--if you don’t implement effective woodpecker deterrents.

As many homeowners have painfully learned, woodpeckers can drill holes into wood siding, window frames, eaves, trim and fascia boards. They often hammer cedar and redwood siding until it looks like the surface of the moon. If you have a façade or decorative fir, pine or cypress, they’ll attack that too. Regrettably, woodpeckers prefer new construction and rustic, channeled plywood with cedar or redwood veneers. Many a homeowner has been saddened to discover the tell-tale narrow horizontal line of holes on the side of their home as woodpeckers forage for insects. These birds will even go after the plastic parts in your rooftop solar panels. Without effective woodpecker controls, your home is at the mercy of these pests.

As if damage to your home wasn’t enough, woodpeckers can drive you crazy with their incessant drumming--especially in the springtime. They seem to love to bang away at the hollow areas where their drumming makes the most noise. That includes your metal rain gutters, downspouts, chimney caps, TV dish antennas, rooftop plumbing vents, and metal roof valleys. Ask any homeowner with a woodpecker problem: these birds will drum all day long, week after maddening week.

It’s enough to make you want to whip out the BB gun or even bird poisons. Unfortunately for you and fortunately for them, woodpeckers are migratory, non-game birds that are fully protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. In fact, the red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis) and the ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus principalis) are both listed as Endangered Species and cannot be touched without incurring the penalty of law.

Fortunately for you, there are a number of effective and humane woodpecker control measures you can use to solve most woodpecker problems.

One widely used woodpecker deterrent is lightweight plastic bird netting. This method works because you’re physically excluding pest birds from specific areas.  Birds simply can’t get at your property. Plastic bird netting typically comes in several mesh sizes to block out various size birds. For most woodpeckers, you’ll need a 3/4-inch mesh size. If you’re concerned about the appearance of bird netting, high quality netting is now available in various colors to match your home's exterior.

When installing the netting, be sure to leave a 3-inch space between the netting and the area to be protected. You don’t want the birds to drum their beaks through the mesh. You can also install bird netting to the overhanging eaves, then swing back to your exposed siding. For best results, secure the netting tightly to prevent birds from getting behind it.

To streamline the installation of bird netting, one manufacturer offers a bird netting kit. These kits include bird net hardware to help match any job. Things like perimeter cable, which can be set up around the area to be netted off to ensure that there are no gaps for birds to enter, and that the netting stays taut. The kits may also include netting hardware--items like cable crimps, turnbuckles, intermediate attachments, hog rings, and accessories and tools to ensure a correct and lasting installation.

It’s sometimes best to add additional deterrents to your home (in addition to netting). Combined, two woodpecker control approaches create an effective solution to the woodpecker problem. For example, consider installing some visual deterrents like banners that crinkle in the breeze and reflect sunlight. Or balloons emblazoned with large predator eyes to intimidate pest birds. For best effect, visual woodpecker deterrents should be moved around often so birds don't get used to them.

Above all, it’s important to be proactive and install these woodpecker controls and deterrents before the birds arrive.  Once these birds have “set up shop,” it’s pretty hard to get rid of them.

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