[Tweeters] Deterring woodpeckers - some suggestions

FletcherGlen2002 at aol.com FletcherGlen2002 at aol.com
Fri Apr 29 19:34:17 PDT 2005

Hi to all,

I receive this type of conflict call frequently at this time of year. A
little earlier this year than most.

The offending flicker/woodpecker/sapsucker in question is undoubtedly a male.
He is likely feeling territorial and/or amorous and is trying to call in a
female for mating and reproduction. They REALLY like to pound on houses with
metal siding and/or metal gutters (the plastic one's are "no good"). As for
pounding surfaces metal is superior because it is LOUDER!! The louder the
pounding the farther away the sound will carry. The greater the reach of this
hammering means that he is more likely to draw in more females and he will also be
more appealing to the ones that do come to his announcement.

[NOTE: There is also the possibility that the house in question is infested
with insects such as carpenter ants, termites, powder post beetles, etc. ...
We recommend immediate treatment with as non-toxic a method as possible.]

Before metal gutters were available (many moons ago) these poor birds had to
use trees! All this pounding was supposed to be part and parcel with
constructing a nest in which to raise a clutch of young. He may even produce more
than one cavity from which the female or females might choose. Because of this
little custom some of the folks that call me for help tell me that these birds
are making holes "all around the house" just under the gutters or the soffit
flashing, sometimes near the chimney flashing or cap.

So, What to do. Not every trick works with every bird so pick and choose
from these suggestions which I gleen directly from a very helpful book

"Living With Wildlife" published by the Sierra Club and compiled by Diana
Landau and Shelley Stump.

1) Take action quickly, before woodpecker establish their territory. You
can entice them away from the house by providing ample quantities of suet . .
away from their pecking area. ....
2.) A coat or two of clear wood preservative to the affected area
effectively discourages woodpeckers because they do not like the taste. If the bird
moves to another part of the building, treat that area as well. Repair
damaged area with metal rather than wood. (this sounds contra-indicated but helps IF
they are hammering in wood.)
3.) Techniques to frighten woodpeckers away include hanging strips of
colored cloth or aluminum foil (several inches wide and 3 feet long) or
strung-together tin can lids near the pecking sites.
So the previous suggestion of using the foil strips that can be purchased
from the hardware store or garden nursery is a great idea. I also like the
suggestion of putting up nest boxes well away from the house. (You may find small
owls choose these boxes also)

Some annedotal practices include "answering" the hammering from inside the
house by banging on the inside wall close to where the bird is working on the
outside. This must, at the very least, be very disturbing! I have also heard
others say that they have temporarily 'covered' the holes with styrofoam slabs
painted with varathane or shallack (dried, of course!).

Hope some of this helps. Good luck.

Also feel free to call and I'll help to find more remedies.


Sandy Fletcher
Director, Wildlife Rehabilitation
Island Wildlife Shelter, at the Bloedel Reserve
7501 NE Dolphin Drive
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110-3001

Voice: 206.855.9057
Fax: 206.842.6027
Em: sandy at islandwildlife.org
Web: www.islandwildilfe.org

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