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Johnson County

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Johnson County
11811 S. Sunset Drive
Suite 1500
Olathe, KS 66061

(913) 715-7000
(913) 715-7005 fax
jo@listserv.ksu.edu

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Preventing Woodpecker Damage

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Downey Woodpecker pecking on a tree trunk.Fall is the time of year when complaints about woodpeckers begin to roll into our office. The usual complaint is that a woodpecker has started drilling a hole in the side of someone’s house. Another common complaint is woodpeckers trying to enlarge the entrance holes in wooden wren houses. The nonstop pounding occurring at all hours of the day, particularly in the early morning hours, can be quite annoying. Why is this happening now? What can be done to stop it?

Winter is coming, time to find shelter
The woodpeckers are attempting to excavate a hole to gain entrance into your home or bird houses. Winter is coming and they are trying to find suitable habitat to escape the elements. In urban areas, many times the mature trees with dead limbs used for nesting and shelter are removed or trimmed, limiting available nesting sites.  “No one really knows why the birds are attracted to houses, but natural wood (especially cedar) siding, large size, and better sound production may make houses seem like ‘super trees,’ “according to Charles Lee, wildlife specialist with Kansas State University.

Springtime drumming
In the spring, woodpeckers are searching for nesting sites. Many times the woodpecker in question is not drilling a hole for nesting but drumming. Woodpeckers drum on hollow objects or objects that seem to amplify the sound. Common drumming sites include guttering, metal flashing, downspouts, telephone poles, street lights and siding. Drumming is believed to help woodpeckers set up territories, attract a mate and find food.

How to stop woodpeckers from drilling holes in your house
Getting these pesky critters to move on is easier to accomplish if the problem is addressed as soon as it is noticed. Cut 18-inch long strips of aluminum foil about an inch and a half wide and tack one end to the house in the vicinity of the hole. Breeze or wind moves the foil and reflects sunlight making it difficult for the woodpecker to get back to work. In addition to the streamers, many individuals will buy five or six aluminum pie tins and hang them from the soffit so they blow back and forth in front of the hole. Another piece of the puzzle may be to buy a couple eyed balloons and position them on the side of the house with the damage. These balloons have reflective eyes on their surface and have been shown to be effective deterrents.

Metal collars can be purchased at a local birding store and screwed onto the openings of wren houses to prevent woodpeckers from enlarging the hole and destroying the house for use by wrens. That persistent woodpecker my still tap tap tap away, but at least the entrance will not be damaged.

If you would like additional information on controlling woodpecker damage, please see the publication: Woodpeckers Urban Wildlife Damage Control.

Contact Us

Jessica Barnett
Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent
Jessica.Barnett@jocogov.org