Urban Woodpecker

Living with urban wildlife



Homeowners may not like woodpeckers pounding on the sides of their houses. The best way to keep woodpeckers from attacking your home is to leave dead trees (snags) standing on your property, which will provide cavity sites and insects for food.

There are three possible reasons that woodpeckers pound on the sides of houses:

  1. Woodpeckers will drill in decaying wood looking for insects to eat. If woodpeckers are drilling in multiple places on the side of your house, check for insect infestation. If insects are present, replace the affected wood.
  2. Woodpeckers will excavate cavities in wood for caching food, and to make nesting and roosting sites. Most species prefer dead wood, which is essentially what your house is made of. Plug any holes these birds make as soon as possible. During the spring and summer, assume that any cavities have nestling baby birds in them, and wait until the young have fledged (left the nest) before sealing the hole.
  3. Wodpeckers proclaim their territories and attract mates by drumming on surfaces that resonate well, such as house siding, or metal gutters and downspouts. The birds will usually return regularly to the same location to drum. To deter them from this behavior, you need to modify the building surface to muffle their sounds by covering the drumming site with foam or netting placed several inches out from the building. You can also hang strips of aluminum foil or fabric from the eaves to frighten birds away. Covering the area with slippery plastic or removing perch sites will also prevent the birds from clinging to the side of the house. Aversion conditioning techniques, such as making noise or spraying them with water, may also be effective deterrents.

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