How to Stop Woodpecker Damage

Woodpeckers can cause serious damage to homes and property. Their constant pecking and drumming can ruin wood siding, doors, gutters, and roofs. Fortunately, there are several effective methods to deter woodpeckers and prevent further damage.

Identify the Woodpecker Species

The first step is identifying the woodpecker species responsible for the damage. This will help determine the most effective deterrent methods. Common culprits include:

Downy Woodpecker

Smaller black and white woodpecker with white stripe down back. Pecks on houses searching for insects and sap.

Hairy Woodpecker

Larger black and white woodpecker. Drums on houses more frequently than downy woodpeckers.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Medium-sized with zebra-like black and white pattern. Known for damaging cedar shakes and other wood siding.

Northern Flicker

Brownish woodpecker with black spots. Hammers on sides of houses creating large holes.

Pileated Woodpecker

Crow-sized woodpecker with black body and red crest. Can do extensive damage while excavating nest cavities.

Pay attention to size, color patterns, drumming sounds, and damage patterns to identify the exact species. This will inform the deterrent methods.

Inspect and Assess the Damage

Thoroughly inspect all areas of the house, including siding, roof, eaves, window frames, and doors. Look for the following:

  • Holes – Check for entry cavities and holes with uneven edges.
  • Missing wood – Look for chunks and shards of wood removed by beak.
  • Peck marks – See small bore holes and repetitive pecking marks.
  • Stains – Note any stains from sap and resin around damaged areas.
  • Nesting cavities – Inspect for larger holes with nesting material inside.

Assess the extent of damage. Is it confined to certain areas or widespread? Are critical structures compromised? Photograph and document all damages. Identifying entry points and monitoring if the woodpecker returns will determine your action plan.

Identify and Remove Attractants

Woodpeckers peck on houses for three primary reasons: food, nesting sites, and signaling. Eliminating woodpecker attractants is key.

Remove Food Sources

Woodpeckers drill holes seeking carpenter bees, ants, termites, and other insects they eat.

  • Seal holes and crevices in siding where insects enter. Caulk gaps with silicone sealant.
  • Treat and eliminate insect infestations in walls. This may require calling a pest control professional.
  • Clean gutters and eaves to remove insect nests.
  • Use insecticides if necessary to remove food sources.

Prevent Nesting

Woodpeckers may excavate nesting cavities in the soft cedar of houses.

  • Seal outer holes right away so they can’t be enlarged.
  • Place mesh netting or hardware cloth over areas damaged.
  • Use wood filler, caulk, or removable vinyl siding patches to cover holes.

Stop Drumming

Drumming on houses creates noise to communicate with other birds and establish territory.

  • Place acoustic dampening materials like foam or cushions on areas being drummed.
  • Reduce outside noise that may provoke drumming responses.

Further Prevention

  • Keep all wood siding and trim in good repair. Fix splits and gaps.
  • Clean debris from rain gutters so insects don’t gather.
  • Install metal sheathing around roof beams and eaves.
  • Use plastic or metal mesh over exposed window screening.

Identifying and eliminating food sources, shelters, and drumming sites removes what attracts woodpeckers to houses. Ongoing maintenance and prevention will discourage them long-term.

Use Effective Deterrent Methods

Once you’ve identified the woodpecker and assessed the damages, implement immediate deterrents tailored to the species:

Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers

  • Hang lightweight aluminum foil strips near damaged areas to scare with motion and noise.
  • Attach colorful reflective mylar tape on poles or sticks. Keep moving periodically.
  • Place fake owls or rubber snakes near pecked areas to frighten them.
  • Use noisemakers triggered by motion like battery-powered alarms. Loud sounds will startle them.

Northern Flickers

  • Apply sticky bird repellent like Roost-No-More around pecked areas.
  • Attach shiny pinwheels near damage since flickers avoid reflective objects.
  • Install a plastic deer head with moving eyes to deter them.

Pileated Woodpeckers

  • Mount tall rotating whirligigs with shiny streamers in problem spots.
  • Place large fake hawks attached to roofs to scare them away.
  • Create wooden cut-outs of humans and move frequently.

Auditory Deterrents

  • Play the predator calls of hawks and owls intermittently.
  • Use loud ultrasonic repellent devices. Vary the sounds.
  • Install rubber tips on roof poles to muffle drumming.

Be vigilant with deterrent placement and move regularly so woodpeckers don’t become accustomed. Use multiple methods together for best results. Continue until all signs of the woodpecker disappear.

Prevent Woodpeckers Long-Term

Deterring current woodpeckers is only part of the solution. Take additional steps to stop woodpeckers from causing damage again:

Install Physical Barriers

  • Cover damaged areas with 1/4 inch metal hardware cloth to prevent excavating.
  • Staple heavy plastic sheeting over problematic areas.
  • Mount insulation boards and wood panels over frequently pecked spots.
  • Enclose open rooflines and eaves with boards, metal strips, or wire mesh.
  • Consider covering entire houses with vinyl or metal siding less attractive to woodpeckers.

Modify Habitats

  • Clear away dead trees in surrounding property woodpeckers may nest in.
  • Eliminate exterior wood trim and surfaces prone to pecking.
  • Relocate bird feeders away from houses to reduce food sources.
  • Let landscaping grow in to limit potential nest spots.

Continue Deterrents

  • Keep using effective deterrents like flashing lights, disjointed sounds, and predator decoys.
  • Check for new damage monthly. Immediately discourage with methods used successfully.
  • Vary locations and types to avoid acclimation. Persistence is key.
  • Place deterrents both outside and inside if needed. Attics are prone to internal damage.

With diligence, prevention measures will condition woodpeckers to avoid returning long-term. But consistently maintaining deterrents and restricting access is vital.

When to Call a Professional

Severe woodpecker damage often requires professional assistance:

  • If you are unable to identify the woodpecker species pecking your home.
  • If damage is excessive, recurrent, or located high up out of reach.
  • If woodpeckers begin damaging deck posts, stairs, or load-bearing structures.
  • If methods like deterrents, nest removal, and hole blocking fail to stop woodpeckers.
  • If insect or rodent infestations behind walls and wood require professional mitigation.

Licensed contractors have additional expertise and tools to stop woodpecker damage:

They Can:

  • Use lift equipment to inspect damage on high walls and rooflines.
  • Identify entry points for thorough repairs inaccessible to homeowners.
  • Employ special cameras and equipment to examine inner wall damage.
  • Determine if major structural repairs are required.
  • Provide custom metal sheathing over pecked areas out of easy reach.
  • Spray industrial-strength bird repellent chemicals as needed.
  • Perform carpentry repairs to replace woodpecker-damaged sections.
  • Offer warranties and liability assurances for extensive repairs and modifications.

Professional Services

  • Pest control – Treat substantial insect infestations attracting woodpeckers.
  • Carpentry – Repair, replace, and modify damaged wood components.
  • Roofing – Identify and repair damage to shingles, flashing, and roofing.
  • Chimney repair – Fix woodpecker cavities in chimney exteriors.

Don’t let severe woodpecker damage persist. Seek professional support when do-it-yourself options fail or structural repairs are required. They can provide lasting solutions.

Home Insurance Claims

If woodpecker damage is extensive, consider filing an insurance claim to offset repair costs. Damage from wildlife may be covered but policies differ:

  • Review your homeowners insurance policy for coverage of sudden damage from woodpeckers. This falls under standard dwelling protection in many policies.
  • File claims as soon as possible after identifying damage. Photograph evidence extensively. Keep records of unsuccessful mitigation efforts.
  • Be aware that gradual accumulative damage from long-term woodpecker pecking may not qualify, as most policies have exclusions.
  • Itemize all damage and get at least two bids for necessary repairs from licensed contractors.
  • Provide proof you attempted to mitigate damage yourself like deterrents before filing claim.
  • Know that filing claims for as little as $5,000 in damage may increase premiums. Weigh costs carefully.
  • Consider calling your insurance company first to understand claim eligibility before engaging contractors.

While frustrating, woodpecker damage to homes is a relatively common issue covered by many homeowners insurance policies, if deemed necessary and sudden. But due diligence in mitigating the issue yourself will make filing a claim easier.

How to Stop Woodpecker Damage: Key Takeaways

  • Identify the woodpecker species causing damage for optimal deterrents.
  • Thoroughly inspect property for extent of damage and entry points.
  • Eliminate attractants like food sources, nesting sites and drumming noises.
  • Install temporary deterrents like flashes, sounds, and predator effigies.
  • Block cavities and use physical barriers to restrict access long-term.
  • Modify landscaping and architecture to prevent recurrence.
  • Call professionals for structural repairs or severe recurrent damage.
  • Consider filing insurance claims if damage is substantial and coverage qualifies.
  • Be vigilant! Preventing woodpecker damage requires diligence and persistence.

With prompt action and consistent monitoring, woodpecker damage can be successfully mitigated. A combination of harassment techniques, physical deterrents, and restricting access will convince problematic woodpeckers to stop damaging your house long-term. Stay observant and be proactive!

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about stopping woodpecker damage:

What are the most effective methods to deter woodpeckers?

Motion-activated sounds and flashes tend to work best at startling woodpeckers. Reflective mylar tape, fake owls and snakes, and ultrasonic repellents are good temporary options. Long-term, restrict access with wire mesh, remove attractants, and continue harassment.

How do you keep woodpeckers from coming back?

Vary deterrent locations regularly, restrict potential food and nesting sites, and use reliable harassment techniques consistently. Be vigilant in scaring them off immediately upon return before they get comfortable again. Preventing access to damaged areas is key.

What scent will keep woodpeckers away?

Strong scents like garlic, vinegar, ammonia, and chili pepper juice may have mild effects but are not foolproof. Sticky bird gel repellents work better. Removing food attractants and keeping damaged areas sealed works best to deter their return.

Does noise bother woodpeckers?

Yes, certain sounds will deter woodpeckers. Loud music, clanking pie pans, aluminum foil strips, and sporadic bursts from motion-activated noisemakers can startle them. Ultrasonic devices also disturb them. But they may become accustomed, so vary the sounds.

What is the best way to prevent woodpeckers from damaging houses?

Take proactive measures like installing wire mesh before damage occurs. Maintain your home’s exterior by sealing holes, fixing woodpecker damage quickly, removing food attractants, and keeping the area inhospitable. Harass at first signs of pecking. Prevention is most effective.

When should you call a professional for woodpecker damage?

Contact pros for damage beyond reach, persistent woodpeckers unaffected by harassment, major structural damage, recurring issues, or infestations possibly attracting the birds. They have additional tools, equipment, and materials to permanently block access and prevent recurrence.

Does homeowners insurance cover woodpecker damage?

Often yes, but policies vary. Sudden damage from hazardous wildlife like woodpeckers falls under standard dwelling coverage in many policies. But gradual damage accrued over time may be excluded. File claims promptly, document damage extent, and show failed mitigation efforts.


Woodpeckers can rapidly do costly damage. But implementing diligent harassment techniques alongside preventative exclusion methods and maintaining vigilance will convince them to stop. Restrict access to vulnerable areas, vary deterrents, remove attractants, and enlist professional support as needed for severe cases. With persistence, woodpecker damage can be mitigated and recurrences prevented. Stay observant, act promptly, and do not allow woodpeckers to compromise your home’s integrity.