Deterring Woodpeckers

Downy Woodpecker © US Fish and Wildlife
Downy Woodpecker © US Fish and Wildlife

Woodpeckers drilling on homes is seasonal, so in many cases nothing needs to be done. If they are causing significant damage, there are some deterring options.

1. Tack a large sheet of plastic, such as a drop cloth or heavy-duty garbage bag, over the wood or metal on your house. Attach the plastic sheet at the top and leave the bottom free to bunch and blow in the wind. The birds won’t be able to get a good footing on the plastic, and the movement of the plastic will help scare them away.

2. Try hanging several, six-foot long mylar streamers (found in party supply stores) 10 inches apart over the damaged area to create movement. In hard to reach or inaccessible areas, extend helium-filled mylar balloons (with very long strings) directly in front of the area. Supplement these scare tactics by squirting a hose near the bird before it gets settled in to work in the mornings.

3. In corners or under eaves, you can stretch bird netting (i.e., fruit tree netting, available at garden supply centers) so that the woodpecker can’t reach the wood or metal (keep it at least six inches from the surface).

4. Leave dead trees and snags around the yard to help provide natural feeding, nesting, and drumming sites for the birds.