There is no rhyme or reason why a woodpecker picks your wood siding over a tree in your yard. There are three reasons why a woodpecker chooses either. Mating. Shelter. Sustenance. And if you live in the west, the Acorn Woodpecker likes to drill small holes in wood for storing acorns… one acorn per hole.
Woodpeckers are more prevalent in rural areas and near suburban homes that back up to woods.
They can cause serious damage in addition to just being incredibly annoying. They’re noisy with that constant pecking and they can leave dings, chips, small and large holes in your siding.
Or as you can see in this case, the damage goes beyond your wood siding, and can make its way inside the walls in your home! In this odd scenario, a pest control company found 700 pounds of acorns in the walls of this home dropped in by a woodpecker pecking holes in the homeowner's wood siding!
Why Are Woodpeckers Pecking My Wood Siding?
In the early spring woodpeckers peck incessantly to attract a mate and mark territory. During this time, they will drum on anything. If they choose to use your wood siding, they will mostly likely create a series of tiny holes.
In late spring you’ll find woodpeckers drilling to make nests for raising young. In the autumn months the fledged young will be pecking out a hollow to sleep in during the winter, as woodpeckers shelter alone every night. Nesting and sheltering holes are large and round.
Small, irregular shaped holes in your siding are caused by woodpeckers feeding on insects, insect eggs, and larvae living in your wood siding.
Most common are carpenter bees drilling tunnels to deposit eggs. Woodpeckers will destroy your siding trying to get to the developing larvae, as this is a favorite food of woodpeckers. If you have carpenter bees, you’ll attract woodpeckers.
Can Woodpeckers Be Deterred From Damaging Wood Siding?
The number one thing to remember is it’s illegal to kill a woodpecker. Almost all birds, native to the United States, including their nests and eggs, are protected by a federal law that has been in place since 1918. So, lethal methods, like poison or shooting, are not an option.
There are many product-driven solutions found in stores and on the internet that, generally are not successful, especially as a single method of deterring woodpecker activity.
Researchers have performed studies using six common long-term woodpecker deterrents available for purchase: life-sized plastic owls with paper wings, reflective streamers, plastic eyes strung on fishing line, roost boxes, suet feeders, and a sound system which broadcasts woodpecker distress calls followed by the call of a hawk.
None of these deterred woodpeckers all the time, and only the streamers worked with any consistency. Woodpeckers are intelligent birds, so control methods like plastic owls or plastic eyes on fishing line are only a temporary solution, as they eventually figure out these are not real.
Woodpecker deterrent additive is available for paint and stain. In conjunction with other measures this can be a successful solution.
If you’re seeing large nesting/sheltering holes in your siding, placing appropriately sized roost boxes close by has been quite successful, based on real life experiences of homeowners. You can purchase the boxes in various sizes or find instructions to build your own on the internet. If you’re seeing more than one woodpecker at your siding, you’ll probably need more than one roost box, as woodpeckers are solitary birds and do not share roosts. Once your boxes are set up, close the holes in your siding, making sure no eggs or birds are inside.
Plug small, foraging holes to prevent water and further insect damage. Removing the food source beneath the surface of your siding with pest control methods is a must. Adding feeders to your yard may keep woodpeckers away from the siding.
Can Woodpecker Damage Be Repaired?
Fill small holes with a stainable or paintable exterior wood filler product, then sand and finish to match your siding.
Larger holes may require the board be replaced. You might be able to patch the siding by cleaning up the hole edges, cutting a piece of board to fit (remember to line up the wood grain properly), and gluing into place. Sand and finish to match existing siding.
Preserving Your Wood Siding Is Worth The Effort
Catching woodpecker issues early is key to minimizing damage.
Research leans toward no single method being completely effective. You may have to combine methods, use trial and error, and see what works best in your situation.
Based on real stories from homeowners, providing woodpecker nesting/roosting boxes has been the single most successful option. We would suggest starting with the boxes and adding additional methods, if necessary.
Look for our up-coming blog with helpful information on deterring the pesky carpenter bee from drilling into your wood siding. Remember, if you see carpenter bees, you’re attracting woodpeckers.
Be vigilant, Wood Lovers.
Have you found a method that works best for you? We’d love to hear about your experience.