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Try these solutions recommended by an ornithologist at the National Audubon Society.

By Alexandra Churchill
May 22, 2020
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great spotted woodpecker in a tree
Credit: Torri Photo / Getty Images

Woodpeckers cause damage and noise when making nests, staking out territory, or looking for food, says Geoff LeBaron, an ornithologist at the National Audubon Society. If you observe them in their natural habitat, they use their sharp bills to peck holes into trees and stick their long, barbed tongues inside to poke around for insects and excavate holes for nesting or roosting in at night. Simply put, if a woodpecker views your home as its territory, it may cause exterior damage and annoy you with its drumming. To prevent damage to wooden siding, try these methods. You might also want to consider adding a birdhouse to your yard for those displaced.

Protect your home from further damage.

Once a woodpecker drills holes in your home, more of them will likely be drawn to the area. Insects may crawl into the holes and infest your house, further exacerbating the problem. To repair existing holes, seal each one with smooth application of putty, let dry, then coat with a polyurethane or oil-based paint. (This will deter insects from using your home as a nesting site.) Staple bird netting, such as Sta-Green Bird Netting ($7, lowes.com), available at hardware and garden-supply stores over large, round holes, which are signs of nesting.

Deter and distract them away from the house.

It's worth implementing visual and sound-based deterrents: Hang reflective aluminum streamers, such as Bird-X Irri-Tape ($12, homedepot.com), near the damaged areas—their movement and shine should deter the birds. You can also try hanging aluminum pie plates, old CDs or other shiny items, but reflective tape works best.

Move their favorite feeder.

Suet feeders will attract a variety of birds, such as woodpeckers, to your garden. This high-calorie treat is particularly good for them during the winter, providing them with the energy to get through the cold months. Set one up—if you don't have one already—and gradually move the feeder away from your home, a few feet each day, until it's well away from your house. Hopefully, you will have trained the woodpeckers to feed on the suet, rather than drumming on your house.

Consult a professional.

Hire an insect exterminator if you see small, irregular holes, which indicate an infestation. This way, the birds will forage elsewhere.

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