Homeowner DIY Tips to Scare Away Woodpeckers

This week, our Jill of All Trades, Jill Washburn, shows us how to deal with nuisance woodpeckers that are causing damage.  It’s not uncommon to have woodpeckers pecking at your house in the Spring.  That is the time of year when they are looking to mate and nest.  They may just like the sound that your house makes, they may think its a great place to nest, or they may have found that it’s a good source of food.

Despite their name, occasionally, woodpeckers will become fixated on something metal on your house, like a chimney cap.  That’s, likely, more of a mating behavior.  It’s still annoying, though… and loud!  Jill had that problem at her house, and after the third day of a way-too-early woodpecker wake-up call, she got an idea.  Why not light the gas logs in the fireplace and heat up the chimney cap?  She did it, and it worked immediately.  Bonus… the woodpecker never came back!

Spring is "prime time" for woodpecker damage.

If the holes that the woodpecker is making in your house are smaller, maybe the size of a pencil eraser, woodpeckers are using your house to feed.  That can be a more complex problem.  They’re feeding on insects, says Jill, and insects often set up in a spot where there’s moisture.  So, you probably have to fix the moisture issue first to get rid of the insects and, ultimately, the woodpeckers.  Does that mean that you have moisture sneaking behind your siding or trim boards?  It might.  But, it may be as simple as low tree branches overhanging your roof.  They may not be letting your house dry out after a rain shower or early in the morning.  Trimming those branches back may go a long way toward keeping the bugs, and the woodpeckers, away.

There are many things that can discourage woodpeckers, says Jill.  One of them is loud sounds.  The problem with that may be that loud sounds are also likely to annoy your neighbors, so it may not be your best choice.  Woodpeckers, and many other birds, are also really not fond of shiny, flashy, mirrored or chrome-looking things, especially if they move.  

Anything shiny that moves will scare off birds.

There are many items on the market that you can hang on your house that will reflect the light and move.  There are mylar tapes that you can string up or let hang and blow in the wind.  There are twisted plastic Bird Scare Rods that are coated with a shiny reflective coating that almost look like metallic icicles.  They are super affordable and easy to hang and they blow and twist in the breeze to discourage the birds.  Some people even use old CD’s and hang them, or pieces of them, on their houses.  Those can work, too, says Jill.  Just make sure you hang them from a string so that they can twist and move in the breeze.

Of course, there are some unconventional methods, too.  A couple of Jill’s friends swear by this one.  Take a small taxidermied animal mount (a weasel, a mink, etc.) and place it on a window sill, where the woodpeckers (or other birds) can see it.  It doesn’t even have to be outside.  It can be on the inside.  Just make sure that the birds can see it through the glass.  Birds will not go near anything that they think is a predator.  One friend swears that it cured the woodpecker problem he had instantly.  

Small mounted animals will scare off woodpeckers, and other birds.

A couple things to note here… you’re going to have to leave it in the window for a while, at least through mating/nesting season, to make sure the woodpeckers get the message, and you’re going to have to move it slightly every few days or so.  Jill says, if they see it staying in the exact same spot for too long, they will lose their fear of it.

Where do you find such a thing?  You can often find them at flea markets and antique shows.  It can be an old one.  It doesn’t even have to be a well-done one.  They all work.

Some people buy owl decoys.  You can find them in many garden centers.  They will scare off many birds.  Again, it’s probably best to move it occasionally, so that the birds don’t get used to it in one exact spot.

So, it is possible to send the woodpeckers packing, and save your house from getting damaged.

PROJECT RATING: Easy - Easy+ (depending on the scare method you use)

To watch Jill show you the options, just click on the video player above.