Updated: Aug 28
How to Deter Woodpeckers Humanely
Woodpeckers are interesting birds to observe, with their distinctive drumming sounds and unique behaviours. However, when they start pecking away at your home or property, they can become quite a nuisance. If you find yourself dealing with woodpecker damage or frequent visits from these feathered friends, it's important to take action to deter them and protect your property. In this article, we will explore effective methods for how to get rid of woodpeckers quickly and keep them away from your home.
Why Are Woodpeckers Attracted To Your House?
Woodpeckers tend to be attracted to homes and buildings primarily because they offer suitable nesting and foraging opportunities. Unfortunately, their pecking can cause damage to wooden sidings, stucco siding, eaves, chimneys and other structures. Understanding their behaviour and implementing effective deterrents can help resolve the issue without causing harm to the birds.
Understanding Woodpecker Behaviour
Woodpeckers are known for their drumming behaviour, which involves pecking on trees or other surfaces to communicate, establish territory, and search for a food source. This behaviour is more prevalent during mating season or when they are in search of insects.
Identifying Woodpecker Damage
Woodpecker damage is characterized by holes or indentations on wooden surfaces. These holes are typically cylindrical or rectangular and can vary in size depending on the woodpecker species. Other signs include the presence of wood chips or debris around the damaged area.
Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Woodpeckers
Scarecrow Effect: Hang reflective objects such as CDs or aluminum foil strips near the area where woodpeckers are active. The reflective movement is an effective bird repeller and can discourage their return.
Predator Decoys: Place fake predators like owls or hawks near the damaged area. Woodpeckers are wary of these natural predators and will avoid areas where they are present.
Hot Sauce Solution: Create a homemade repellent by mixing hot sauce or cayenne pepper with water. Apply the mixture to the affected areas. The spicy taste will deter woodpeckers from pecking.
Bird Feeder Caution: Avoid woodpecker-friendly bird feeders and food.
Reflective Tape: Hang strips of reflective tape on the sides of your home or structures to create an optical deterrent. The movement and reflection of light will startle woodpeckers and make the area less appealing to woodpeckers.
Shiny Objects: Prevent woodpeckers from getting too comfortable with objects that reflect light. Hanging aluminum foil and tin can lids are inexpensive DIY methods that encourage woodpeckers to move on to another location.
Fake Owl: Woodpeckers do exhibit caution and wariness towards owls, considering them potential predators. Owls are nocturnal hunters and are known for their stealth and predatory capabilities. When woodpeckers perceive the presence of an owl, they often become alert and vigilant.
Ultrasonic Devices: Install ultrasonic devices specifically designed to scare woodpeckers. These emit high-frequency sounds that are unpleasant to the birds but inaudible to humans.
Distress Calls: Play recorded woodpecker distress calls to deter them from the area. The distress calls signal danger, making the woodpeckers reluctant to approach.
Physical Barriers are Guaranteed to Get Rid of Woodpeckers
Siding Repair: Repair any existing woodpecker damage promptly. Fill the holes with wood putty or replace damaged siding to remove attractive spots for woodpeckers to peck.
Hardware Cloth: Attach a piece of hardware cloth over the damaged area. This will act as a barrier, preventing further damage to the wood beneath.
Bird Netting: Attach bird netting or wire mesh over vulnerable areas to create a physical barrier. Ensure the netting is tight and properly secured. This method may not apply to most woodpecker issues but is highly effective at keeping pest birds out of enclosed areas.
Professional Bird Control Assistance
Professionals know how to get rid of woodpeckers the easy way. If the woodpecker problem persists despite your efforts, consider seeking local bird control assistance. Wildlife experts or pest control services can provide effective solutions to discourage woodpeckers from landing on wooden structures to prevent further pecking, without causing harm.
Tips for Preventing Woodpecker Damage
Keep trees and shrubs near your home trimmed to minimize the appeal of your property to woodpeckers.
Remove any dead trees or decaying stumps in your yard, as they attract wood-boring insects that woodpeckers feed on.
Apply a protective sealant or paint with a taste deterrent to wooden surfaces prone to woodpecker activity.
Hang suet feeders away from your home to divert woodpeckers' attention and provide them with an alternative food source.
Regularly inspect your property for signs of woodpecker activity and take prompt action to deter them before the damage becomes extensive.
Woodpeckers are a family of birds called Picidae, with over 200 species worldwide.
They use their strong beaks to drum on trees for communication and finding insects.
Woodpeckers range in size from 6 to 19 inches (15 to 48 cm) long.
Their beaks have a hard outer layer and a softer inner layer to absorb impact.
Woodpeckers have long, sticky tongues to catch insects in wood.
They mainly eat insects but also consume fruits, nuts, and sap.
Woodpeckers have zygodactyl feet for clinging to vertical surfaces.
Many species have unique head markings and vibrant plumage.
Woodpeckers excavate tree cavities for nesting and shelter.
Some species engage in "anting," rubbing ants on their feathers for defence.
Woodpeckers use drumming to communicate and attract mates.
They form monogamous pair bonds and engage in elaborate courtship displays.
Acorn woodpeckers store acorns in granaries drilled into trees or structures.
Some species, like the ivory-billed woodpecker, are critically endangered.
Conservation efforts are ongoing to protect woodpecker habitats.
Are Their Woodpeckers in Ontario?
Yes, there are woodpeckers in Ontario, Canada. Ontario is home to several woodpecker species that inhabit its forests, woodlands, and urban areas. Here are some woodpecker species commonly found in Ontario:
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens): This is the smallest woodpecker species in North America and can be found throughout Ontario. It has a black-and-white pattern, a small bill, and often visits backyard bird feeders.
Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus): Similar in appearance to the Downy Woodpecker, the Hairy Woodpecker is slightly larger and has a longer bill. It is also widespread in Ontario and can be seen in a variety of habitats.
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus): The Northern Flicker is a migratory woodpecker species that spends its summers in Ontario. It has a distinctive plumage with brown, black, and white markings. Flickers can often be spotted foraging for insects on the ground.
Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus): The Pileated Woodpecker is the largest woodpecker species in Ontario. It has a striking appearance with a red crest and black body. Pileated Woodpeckers are typically found in mature forests.
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus): Despite its name, the Red-bellied Woodpecker has only a faint reddish wash on its belly. It is expanding its range in Ontario and can be found in woodlands, parks, and urban areas.
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius): This migratory woodpecker species visits Ontario during the breeding season. It has a unique habit of drilling rows of small holes in trees to feed on sap and attract insects.
These are just a few examples of woodpecker species that can be found in Ontario. The province offers diverse habitats that support a variety of woodpecker species, making it a great location for observing and appreciating these fascinating birds.
Are Woodpeckers Migratory Birds?
Woodpeckers exhibit a range of migration patterns, with some species being migratory and others being non-migratory. The migration behavioural of woodpeckers varies depending on factors such as climate, food availability, and habitat.
Some woodpecker species, like the Northern Flicker, are migratory. They undertake seasonal movements, often moving south during the winter months to find more favourable feeding conditions. These migratory woodpeckers can cover long distances during their migration, sometimes crossing international borders.
On the other hand, many woodpecker species are non-migratory, meaning they remain in their breeding territories throughout the year. These resident woodpeckers adapt to the local environment and can withstand harsh winters by relying on food sources available in their habitats.
It's important to note that migration patterns can also vary within species. For instance, populations of the same woodpecker species in different regions may exhibit different migration behaviours. Some individuals within a species may be migratory, while others may be non-migratory.
Overall, while some woodpecker species migrate, many others are non-migratory and remain in their breeding territories year-round.
What Do Woodpeckers Eat?
Woodpeckers have a varied diet that primarily consists of insects, but they also consume other food sources. Here are the main items that woodpeckers eat:
Insects: Woodpeckers are skilled insect hunters. They feed on a wide range of insects, including beetles, ants, termites, carpenter bees, caterpillars, spiders, and larvae. They use their sharp beaks to drill holes into tree bark and wood to access these hidden insects.
Tree Sap: Some woodpeckers, such as the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, have a particular affinity for tree sap. They create small holes in tree trunks, causing sap to flow, and then feed on the sap as well as the insects that are attracted to it.
Fruits and Berries: Certain woodpecker species, like the Northern Flicker, frequent fruit trees and berry bushes, especially during the non-breeding season when insects might be scarce. They may feed on wild berries, apples, cherries, and other available fruits.
Nuts and Seeds: Woodpeckers can also consume nuts and seeds. They may feed on acorns, beech nuts, pine seeds, and other types of nuts and seeds found in their habitat.
Occasionally, small vertebrates: While insects make up the majority of their diet, some woodpeckers may opportunistically consume small vertebrates, such as lizards, tree frogs, or even small birds' eggs or nestlings.
It's important to note that the specific diet of woodpeckers can vary based on their habitat, season, and available food sources. Different woodpecker species may exhibit slight variations in their preferences and feeding techniques. Overall, woodpeckers play a crucial role in controlling insect populations and shaping forest ecosystems through their foraging behaviour.
Do Woodpeckers Have Any Natural Predators?
Yes, woodpeckers have natural predators. While woodpeckers are known for their strong beaks and ability to defend themselves, they are not immune to predation. Some of the natural predators of woodpeckers include:
Birds of prey: Raptors such as hawks, owls, and falcons are skilled hunters that may prey on woodpeckers. These aerial predators can swoop down and catch woodpeckers in flight or surprise them in their nesting cavities.
Snakes: Certain snake species, like rat snakes and tree snakes, are capable of climbing trees and capturing woodpeckers. They can access the nesting holes and prey on eggs, chicks, or adult woodpeckers.
Mammals: Predatory mammals, including squirrels, weasels, raccoons, and domestic cats, pose a threat to woodpeckers. These animals can climb trees or access woodpecker nests and may prey on eggs, nestlings, or adult woodpeckers.
Other birds: Some larger bird species, such as crows or jays, have been observed attacking woodpeckers to steal their food or harass them. Interactions between different bird species can lead to aggression and predation.
Domestic pets: Unrestrained dogs and outdoor cats can pose a threat to woodpeckers if they are allowed to roam freely in woodpecker habitats. They may chase, injure, or kill woodpeckers if given the opportunity.
It's important to note that woodpeckers have various adaptations and behaviours that can help them evade predators. Their ability to fly, cling to tree trunks, and nest in cavities provides some protection. Additionally, their drumming behaviour and vocalizations can alert them to the presence of potential threats, allowing them to be vigilant and escape if necessary.
Despite these adaptations, natural predators can still pose a risk to woodpeckers, especially during vulnerable stages like nesting or when they are preoccupied with foraging.
Are There Any Benefits To Having Woodpeckers On My Property
Yes, having woodpeckers on your property can bring several benefits:
Natural Pest Control: Woodpeckers are skilled insect hunters and play a valuable role in controlling insect populations. A main food source they feed on is tree-dwelling insects, including beetles, ants, termites, caterpillars and other insects. By foraging for these insects, woodpeckers can help reduce pest populations in trees, which can benefit the overall health of your landscape.
Tree Health: If a tree has as insect infestation or rotting wood. then woodpeckers will be attracted to it. Their foraging behaviour can help identify and target areas of tree damage caused by insects or diseases. By excavating holes and pecking on trees, woodpeckers can expose hidden pests or decay, potentially aiding in early detection and management of tree health issues.
Ecosystem Balance: Woodpeckers are important contributors to the ecological balance of forests and woodlands. Their foraging activities can create cavities in trees, which serve as crucial nesting sites for other bird species, small mammals, and even bats. These cavities provide shelter, nesting opportunities, and protection from predators for a variety of wildlife, contributing to a healthy and diverse ecosystem.
Wildlife Viewing: Woodpeckers are captivating birds to observe. Their vibrant plumage, distinctive behaviour, and drumming sounds can add to the enjoyment of birdwatching on your property. They bring an element of natural beauty and excitement as they go about their foraging and nesting activities.
Ecological Awareness: Attracting woodpeckers to your property can create opportunities for learning and appreciating the natural world. Observing their behaviour, understanding their ecological role, and identifying different woodpecker species can enhance your knowledge and foster a deeper connection with the environment around you.
By providing suitable habitats and maintaining a healthy ecosystem, you can encourage woodpeckers to visit and thrive on your property, enjoying the benefits they bring to both the natural surroundings and your own experience of the outdoors.
Now that you know how to get rid of woodpeckers, will you get rid of them yourself or list the services of a pest control company? With many options to choose from, there is no need to harm woodpeckers when eliminating the problem.
Woodpeckers can cause damage to homes and structures, but with the right strategies, you can effectively deter them and protect your property. By understanding their behaviour, implementing natural remedies, using visual and auditory deterrents, using loud noise and considering physical barriers, you can repel woodpeckers by creating an environment that is less appealing to them. Remember to take preventive measures and seek professional help if needed. With patience and persistence, you can successfully get rid of woodpeckers and enjoy a peaceful home environment.
Q1: Are woodpeckers a protected species by law?
A1: Yes, many woodpecker species are protected under federal or state laws. It is important to check local regulations before attempting any control methods.
Q2: Can woodpeckers cause structural damage to buildings?
A2: While woodpecker damage to wood siding can be unsightly, it rarely leads to structural damage. However, repeated pecking over time can lead to rotting wood due to exposure to the elements and in turn weaken wooden structures.
Q3: How long does it take to get rid of woodpeckers from using natural remedies?
A3: The effectiveness of natural remedies can vary. It may take several weeks or even months before no more woodpeckers are visiting.
Q4: Can I use chemicals to get rid of woodpeckers safely?
A4: It is not recommended to use chemicals as a woodpecker deterrent, as they may harm the birds and pose a risk to the environment.
Q5: Should I remove woodpecker nests from my property?
A5: It is generally illegal to disturb or remove active woodpecker nests. Wait until the nesting season is over before considering nest removal.