9 HUMANE Ways to Get Rid of Woodpeckers! (2023)
Do you want to stop woodpeckers from pecking your house?
Woodpeckers are beautiful and interesting birds, and most people actually try to attract them to their backyard.
For some homeowners, their pecking and tapping become a nuisance.
Unfortunately, woodpeckers can damage the wooden parts of your home and other structures. In some cases, these birds can cause THOUSANDS of dollars of damage. 🙁
- RELATED: 17 Woodpecker Species in the United States and Canada! (ID Guide w/ RANGE MAPS)
So today, I’m providing 9 HUMANE ways to get rid of woodpeckers near your home.
Before we discuss how to get rid of woodpeckers, keep in mind that these wonderful birds are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This act makes it a federal crime to kill, capture, or otherwise harm them.
So not only is it a jerk move to hurt a woodpecker, but it’s also illegal. And honestly, once you see all the humane options below, I think you will see there is no reason to harm them.
#1. Remove what they are looking for!
If woodpeckers are tapping at your house, there’s a good chance they’re searching for a meal. A woodpecker’s main food source is wood-boring insects like termites, ants, and beetles. And the easiest place to find these types of bugs is in wood siding and other wooden structures.
Unfortunately, woodpecker damage is a strong indicator that you also have an insect infestation. Getting rid of woodpeckers may be as simple as eliminating their food source! It’s best to call a professional and have your house inspected for insects and have the bugs removed. But please use a company that uses natural or organic insecticide that won’t hurt the birds if they eat dying insects.
The good news is, once the bugs are gone, the woodpeckers will probably leave too.
#2. Distract woodpeckers with another food source.
Woodpeckers are attracted to a few other sources of food, besides insects, that are easy for us to provide. Suet, for example, is one of their favorite foods.
Try this to encourage woodpeckers to another part of your yard:
First, buy some suet and a feeder and hang it very near the area of your home the woodpecker is pecking.
Then, once the woodpecker finds the new delicious food source, gradually move the feeder away from your house.
Woodpeckers also love berry bushes. Plant raspberry, blueberry, or currant bushes near the edge of your property, away from your house. This can help draw the woodpeckers to an easy meal away from your siding!
#3. Shelter them with a woodpecker birdhouse.
If a woodpecker is boring into your house, it may just be trying to find a place to build a nest. Woodpeckers are cavity nesters, which means they only raise their young inside of an enclosed area. In nature, this is typically done in a dead or dying tree.
Luckily, woodpeckers will readily use birdhouses. So try making or purchasing a few and scattering them around your yard. Your hope is they abandon trying to make a new cavity in your house, and elect to nest inside a beautiful, pre-made nesting box!
IMPORTANT! Before you hang up a birdhouse, it’s important that you figure out which type of woodpecker is attacking your home. Each species requires a different kind of nest box.
For more information on nest boxes and birdhouses, check out these resources:
13 FREE Birdhouse Plans (Different types of woodpeckers included)
9 Ways to Attract Nesting Birds (AND help them thrive!
#4. Get rid of woodpeckers by scaring them.
Using sudden movement is an easy way to scare woodpeckers away without hurting them. Woodpeckers are jumpy and easily frightened, so it doesn’t take a lot to ruffle their feathers. 🙂
Try installing some of these items:
Shiny windmills: Windmill toys like these move erratically and reflect light, which will scare woodpeckers away from your house. Place them near the spot where a woodpecker is causing damage and wait for a strong gust of wind!
Streamers: Similar to windmills, these inexpensive streamers will whip around in the wind, startling the woodpeckers. It’s an inexpensive way to get the woodpeckers to move on. Alternatively, you could tie a ribbon to a dowel or stick to create the same effect.
Pennants or Flags: A string of pennants is perfect if you have a large area where woodpeckers are causing damage. Stake a line of these light pennant flags across your yard to scatter the woodpeckers.
Reflective decoys: When the wind catches these reflective metal decoys, they twirl and move erratically and the woodpecker should fly off.
#5. Use loud noises to get rid of woodpeckers.
Loud, sudden noises can get rid of woodpeckers, especially if you make noise each time they start pecking. Depending on how frequently the woodpeckers visit, you can DIY this solution or use an automatic noisemaker.
Here are some options to try:
- Make a sudden loud noise with whatever you have handy. Turn up your radio, bang on a pot, bang a couple of rocks together, or even stomp on your deck. Whatever makes noise and gets the bird to leave is perfect. Obviously, this option may make you entertaining for your neighbors to watch and is time intensive!
- Install a bird repeller: This device mimics the sounds of predators, which will scare away the woodpeckers. If you have frequent woodpecker visits, a bird repeller is a good option because you can customize how often it makes noise. For example, if your woodpeckers always visit at sunrise and sunset, you can set the calls to go off at a 12-hour interval.
One important note: Don’t use an ultrasonic (silent) bird repeller, which can be harmful to birds and pets. The frequencies are too high for humans to hear, but they can permanently damage a dog’s hearing and cause confusion in birds.
#6. Place decoys near a problem area.
Another option to scare away woodpeckers is to use a decoy made to look like a natural predator. Hawk or owl statues can be (sort of) effective at getting rid of woodpeckers. While most have mixed success, it’s worth a try in combination with other strategies on this list.
Here are 3 different options on Amazon to try:
- Owl decoy with rotating head: This decoy combines the looks of a predator with sudden movements, which may be more effective than a statue alone would be. Plus, it’s a fun addition to your backyard. 🙂
- Hawk decoy: This simple hawk decoy statue isn’t flashy, but if you have an occasional woodpecker it may be effective at keeping it away from your house.
- Hanging owl decoys: Similar to the first option, this product combines a predator decoy with movement and reflective tape to startle woodpeckers into moving on.
#7. Repair woodpecker damage as soon as possible.
Leaving woodpecker damage unrepaired can cause quite a few additional problems.
First, the woodpecker will continue to peck at the same spots, creating larger holes and gouges that are harder to fix. Second, holes can collect moisture, debris, and dirt which can cause rot or cracking of your siding or trim. Finally, unrepaired woodpecker holes are a magnet for new infestations of wood-boring insects like ants, termites, and beetles, which in turn will keep attracting more woodpeckers!
Repairing any woodpecker damage while it’s fresh will help cut down on all of these problems, in addition to helping you get rid of woodpeckers.
The steps to repair woodpecker damage will vary depending on if your damage is in siding, trim, or another type of wood. Some basic items you’ll want to have on hand are wood putty, hardware fabric or metal mesh screen, and paint that matches your house.
If you have stucco siding, which is prone to woodpecker damage, Stuc-O-Flex International makes an outdoor stucco paint that’s specially designed to repel woodpeckers. Learn more about it here.
#8. Use bird netting to keep woodpeckers away.
For areas where you can’t seem to get rid of woodpeckers, consider investing in bird netting to deter them.
Heavy-duty netting made of polypropylene or other strong plastic creates a barrier between your house and the woodpecker.
It’s installed on a roof edge or similar area to create a 4″ (10 cm) gap between the net and siding. This way, the birds can’t land and reach through the net to the wood. Bird netting can be tricky to install correctly, so I recommend hiring a professional to ensure it’s effective and safe.
#9. Don’t hesitate!
Woodpeckers are persistent once they find a spot they like. Because of this, any deterrent you use needs to be done at the first sign of woodpecker damage.
Usually, you’ll hear a woodpecker long before you see it, and the quick, loud tapping will be the first warning of trouble.
It’s also good to regularly inspect your wood siding and trim for woodpecker damage. Depending on the woodpecker species, this can look like small holes, gouges, or even wide scrapes on the wood surface.
You’re likely to see woodpeckers (or their handiwork) when they’re most active during the spring.
Do you have any other ways to get rid of woodpeckers humanely?
Let us know in the comments!
Woodpeckers were eating my cedar shakes. I replaced them with Hardie Planks and it certainly was a well worth it project. I highly recommend it.u
None of these deterrents work for long. I tried everything – including hiring bird experts! The woodpeckers were territorial pests. I had a group of them every year. I finally bit the bullet & replaced all my cedar shake siding with Hardie Plank fiber cement. Worth Every Penny!!!!! Woodpeckers returned only 1 day after that. They tried to peck & then I heard a loud shrieking sound & they flew off. Gone! They haven’t returned. Since Covid, I’ve been working from home, so I can hear everything. No Woodpeckers!! Hardie Plank is the only solution.