Preventing and controlling property damage

Woodpeckers are more likely to be heard than seen, and homeowners often consider them a nuisance because of their noisy drilling as well as the damage they can cause. Woodpeckers peck for various reasons - feeding, communicating, or roosting - and the resulting holes can range in size from a quarter inch hole to a cavity big enough for a nest. Homes made of wood siding or stucco often receive the most damage because these types of surfaces are fairly easy to penetrate.

The following suggestions are methods for scaring off woodpeckers. Before you begin, try to cover or repair any existing holes. These holes may attract other woodpeckers to the site to check out the potential food source. For small, pea-sized holes, you may also want to squirt a small amount of linseed oil into each opening. This will kill any insects that may be attracting the woodpeckers. Any of the following visual deterrents may need to be moved once a week.  Moving a device periodically will keep the birds from becoming habituated to it.

Bird scare balloons

Sometimes called "scare-eye" balloons, this quick and inexpensive method deters the woodpecker with it's design that resembles large predatory bird eyes. The balloons should be placed in front of the affected wall or area and  should be moved or removed after about a week so that the bird does not get used to it.

Bird scare tape

Bird scare tape, also called "flash tape," is a thin shiny ribbon of mylar. It is silver on one side and colored on the other. When properly used, the tape flashes in the sun and rattles in the breeze. The flashing and rattling frighten birds.

Tack several long streamers above the affected surface about a foot apart, making sure they are able to move in the breeze.

Fake owls

Plastic owls are available at sporting goods and hunting supply stores. Owls with mechanical heads that rotate and actually screech are most effective. They should be placed 10 - 15 feet high in a visible spot, like the edge of the roof or upper floor deck railing.

Pie tins and old CDs

Attach pie tins or unusable cds or dvds to a string and hang them in front of the affected area. Tins should be placed so that they spin freely in the wind.


Wood Treatments

Cedar Siding often attracts insects that woodpeckers are drilling to get at.  Seal all openings in siding with caulking to keep insects to a minimum.  Look for a wood stain or preservative that kills insects, which will deter the woodpeckers.  Sticky anti-roosting treatments may also keep woodpeckers away.

More information

The DNR also has a packet containing helpful tips and other information for homeowners with woodpecker problems. Download a copy of the Woodpecker Packet , or send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Woodpecker Packet, Box 25, 500 Lafayette Rd., St. Paul, MN 55155.