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What can I do about woodpecker damage?

Most people who enjoy the outdoors would agree that woodpeckers are beautiful birds to look at. However, from late fall to late spring these colorful birds can become a real nuisance.

In Michigan there are 8 varieties of woodpeckers. They are as follows:  Downy, Hairy, Red-Bellied, Red Headed Pileated, the Northern Flicker, Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, and the Black-Backed woodpecker.

All eight species of woodpeckers are protected and it is a criminally charged offense to intentionally harm or kill any of these eight species in Michigan.

Woodpeckers become damaging threats starting in the late fall of any given year and then become even more aggressive and active during the months of March, April, and May, (mating seasons).

These birds peck holes in trees, decks, wood and metal siding, down spouts, plastic drains, and more. The conclusion that the only reason woodpeckers are pecking is they are eating the bugs is simply not the whole story. Although they like certain insects to eat, much of their damage is due to a mating posture called drumming and often times referred to as hammering.  Woodpeckers will even drum away, pounding on glass until it cracks as the reflection they see makes them think they are looking at a possible woodpecker mate.  Both male and female woodpeckers drum.

Woodpeckers “drum” in order to make noise for the purpose of either marking their territory or as a mating call. These birds also make large damaging holes as they are using them to make a nest.

And yes, wood peckers make holes in search of certain insects (they are particular of what they eat) such as ants, wood bees, and tree boring insect larvae.  Fourthly, as your tree may not be infested with any insects, the case may be they are simply taking delight in the sap taste that is so often found in pine trees.

Woodpeckers enjoy pecking and feeding on dying trees and dead branches.  This is yet another reason why trees should pruned and or removed as needed.

A quick Identification of what your woodpecker may be doing to your house, deck, trees, and more:

  • Nice round holes means they are “Drumming”

  • Oblong holes means they are “Nesting

  • Small holes means they are looking for certain insects or sap feeding.

When woodpeckers are pecking, they do not differentiate between a tree and other types of wood. Covering up holes will not prevent woodpeckers from pecking somewhere else in the same general area.

As beautiful and interesting as these birds are they can do a tremendous amount of structural damage in a very short time. The cost for woodpecker repairs often adds up to thousand of dollars, not to mention the inconvenience they create.

While there is no “one stop” solution to keep these birds away, there are actions you can take, and services and products available which will help either cure, control, or minimize their damage.

Currently there are specialized repellent sprays and ultrasonic noise makers which have shown promising results. The use of installing fake owls with wings flapping in the right locations helps.  Shiny, silver reflective spinners, tapes, and tassels placed correctly will also improve woodpecker control. 

It's also a helpful practice to make sure any bird feeders or nest boxes you enjoy are placed as far away from your home or structure as possible to reduce nesting type damage.

Often times it is a challenge to implement the techniques and products required for the best results due to the risk associated with height, products, and chemical handling required for the best results (note: all chemicals our team uses are 100% non-toxic and will not harm any wild life).

As noted above, there is no “one stop” approach to controlling woodpeckers but there are professionals who can help!  For those in our servicing area we suggest you call Branch Tree Service and schedule an appointment with our woodpecker control specialist today!

Branch Tree Service is forever striving to preserve and protect our homes and our environment.


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