Reasons why woodpeckers peck on houses

Woodpeckers have a knack for using houses as their personal drumming pads, leaving homeowners wondering why. There are several reasons these persistent birds may choose to peck on houses. One motivation is the desire to attract a mate, as the loud drumming serves as a way to impress potential partners. Additionally, woodpeckers may peck on houses as part of their nesting behavior, resulting in large, round holes that can cause damage. Another reason is the search for food, as woodpeckers may be seeking out insect larvae hiding within the wood. While woodpeckers can be beneficial for controlling pests, their pecking can become a nuisance. Thankfully, there are various non-lethal methods available to deter woodpeckers, including the use of shiny objects, wood putty to fill holes, wind chimes or fake owls, loud noises, and even playing woodpecker distress calls. It is important to remember that killing these birds is illegal, and alternative methods should always be sought.

Reasons why woodpeckers peck on houses

Woodpeckers are fascinating creatures with unique behaviors. While they may be admired for their exquisite plumage and rhythmic drumming, their habit of pecking on houses can be quite frustrating for homeowners. Understanding the reasons behind this behavior can help us find effective methods to deter them.

Attracting a mate

One of the main reasons why woodpeckers peck on houses is to attract a mate. This behavior, known as drumming, is primarily performed by male woodpeckers during the breeding season. By drumming on surfaces such as trees or houses, they create a loud and distinctive sound that acts as a form of communication to potential mates. It is their way of saying, “I am strong, healthy, and ready to reproduce!”


Woodpeckers also peck on houses as a means of nesting. They use their powerful beaks to create holes in the wood, typically choosing softer and decaying areas. These holes provide a safe and secure space for them to lay their eggs and raise their young. While this nesting behavior is a natural instinct for woodpeckers, it can cause physical damage to the siding of houses.

Searching for food

Woodpeckers are opportunistic feeders and often peck on houses in search of food. They have a keen sense of hearing and can detect the presence of insect larvae within the wood. By pecking and drilling into the siding, they expose the hidden larvae, providing themselves with a tasty meal. Their feeding habits not only satisfy their nutritional needs but also help control populations of damaging pests.

Methods to deter woodpeckers

Dealing with woodpecker damage can be a challenge, but there are several methods that homeowners can employ to deter these persistent birds. Some of the most effective deterrents include:

Hanging shiny objects

Woodpeckers are attracted to shiny objects, so hanging them around the affected areas can help discourage their presence. Aluminum foil strips, reflective tape, or even old CDs can create flashes of light that will deter the birds from pecking on the house.

Filling holes with wood putty

If woodpeckers have already created holes in the siding, filling them with wood putty or a similar material can be an effective way to discourage further pecking. By eliminating the soft and decaying wood that the birds find appealing, homeowners can make their properties less desirable for nesting or foraging.

Using wind chimes or fake owls

Woodpeckers are easily startled by unexpected noises or sudden movements. Installing wind chimes or placing fake owls near the affected areas can create enough disturbance to discourage woodpeckers from pecking. The sound of wind chimes and the presence of an owl replica mimic natural predators and make the woodpeckers feel unsafe.

Making loud noises

Similar to the previous method, making loud noises can frighten woodpeckers and discourage their presence. This can be achieved by using devices that emit loud sounds intermittently or by manually banging pots and pans whenever woodpeckers are seen pecking on the house.

Replacing wood siding

In cases where the damage is extensive or the woodpeckers are persistent, homeowners may consider replacing their wood siding with more durable materials, such as vinyl or aluminum. These materials are less likely to attract woodpeckers and are not as susceptible to pecking damage.

Hanging bird netting

Bird netting can be an effective way to physically block woodpeckers from accessing the affected areas of the house. By creating a physical barrier between the birds and the siding, homeowners can prevent further damage and deter the woodpeckers from returning.

Playing woodpecker distress calls

Woodpeckers are highly territorial creatures, and the presence of another woodpecker in their territory can be seen as a threat. By playing recordings of woodpecker distress calls, homeowners can create the illusion of a rival woodpecker and discourage the birds from pecking. These distress calls can be easily found online or purchased from stores specializing in bird control products.

Non-lethal control methods

It is important to remember that woodpeckers are protected under various wildlife regulations, making it illegal to harm or kill them. Therefore, it is crucial to use non-lethal control methods when dealing with woodpecker damage. By implementing these non-lethal measures, homeowners can effectively deter woodpeckers without causing harm to these beautiful birds.

Effectiveness of deterrents

The effectiveness of deterrents may vary depending on the specific circumstances and the persistence of the woodpeckers. Some methods may work well for a short period but may lose their effectiveness over time as the birds become habituated to the deterrents. It may require a combination of different methods or regular rotation of deterrents to achieve long-lasting results.

Problems caused by woodpeckers

While woodpeckers can be fascinating and beneficial creatures, their habit of pecking on houses can cause a variety of problems for homeowners.

Holes in siding

One of the most obvious problems caused by woodpeckers is the creation of holes in the siding of houses. These holes can be unsightly and can compromise the structural integrity of the siding. In extreme cases, woodpeckers can create large, round holes that may require costly repairs or even replacement of the entire siding.

Loud noises

Woodpeckers are not known for their quiet demeanor. Their drumming and pecking behavior can create loud and repetitive noises that can be bothersome, especially early in the morning or late in the evening. The constant hammering on the house can disrupt sleep, cause stress, and generally disturb the peace and tranquility of a home.

Damage to trees

While this article focuses on woodpeckers pecking on houses, it is worth mentioning that these birds can also cause damage to trees. Their pecking behavior can lead to weakened branches, trunk decay, or even girdling, which is the removal of bark in a complete circle around the tree. Such damage can jeopardize the health and stability of trees, making them more susceptible to disease or insect infestations.

Benefits of woodpeckers

Despite the problems they may cause, woodpeckers also provide several benefits to the ecosystem and can be beneficial for homeowners in some ways.

Pest control

Woodpeckers are natural pest controllers, primarily targeting insects and larvae that inhabit trees and wooden structures. By pecking on houses, they often find and consume harmful pests, such as carpenter ants, termites, or wood-boring beetles. Their feeding habits help reduce populations of damaging insects, which can be a significant benefit for homeowners concerned about the health and integrity of their homes.

Nuisance when pecking on houses

While woodpeckers are beneficial for controlling pests, their habit of pecking on houses can be a nuisance for homeowners. The noise, damage to siding, and potential for costly repairs create understandable frustration and inconvenience. Finding a balance between appreciating their ecological role and finding ways to discourage them from pecking on houses is essential.

Importance of non-lethal control

Considering the protected status of woodpeckers, it is crucial to prioritize non-lethal control methods over harmful or lethal approaches. Killing woodpeckers is illegal and can result in legal consequences, fines, or other penalties. By using non-lethal control methods, homeowners can not only effectively manage woodpecker damage but also contribute to the conservation of these fascinating birds.

Legality of killing woodpeckers

Woodpeckers are protected under federal and state wildlife regulations, including the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This act makes it illegal to kill, harm, or disturb migratory birds, including woodpeckers, without a specific permit or exemption. Violating these regulations can result in severe consequences, including fines, imprisonment, or both. Therefore, it is essential to seek non-lethal control methods when dealing with woodpecker damage.

Using non-lethal methods

Fortunately, there are numerous non-lethal control methods available that can effectively deter woodpeckers without causing harm. By employing these methods, homeowners can mitigate the damage caused by woodpeckers while respecting their protected status. These non-lethal methods not only provide a humane approach to bird control but also promote a harmonious coexistence between humans and wildlife.

Effective deterrents

While there are numerous methods to deter woodpeckers, some have proven to be more effective than others. Understanding the effectiveness of different deterrents can help homeowners choose the most appropriate measures for their specific situations.

Shiny objects

Woodpeckers are naturally drawn to shiny or reflective surfaces, making them effective deterrents. Hanging aluminum foil strips, reflective tape, or old CDs around the affected areas can create flashes of light that scare away the birds. These shiny objects mimic the movements of predators, creating an uncomfortable environment for woodpeckers.

Woodpecker distress calls

Woodpecker distress calls can be highly effective in deterring woodpeckers from pecking on houses. These calls mimic the distress vocalizations of woodpeckers, communicating the presence of potential danger to other woodpeckers. By playing these distress calls near the affected areas, homeowners can create the illusion of an active predator or territorial rival, discouraging the woodpeckers from approaching.

In conclusion, woodpeckers peck on houses for various reasons, including attracting a mate, nesting, and searching for food. While their behavior can cause problems and frustrations for homeowners, it is important to prioritize non-lethal control methods to deter woodpeckers and protect these protected birds. By understanding their behaviors and using effective deterrents, homeowners can strike a balance between appreciating woodpeckers’ ecological benefits and maintaining the integrity and peace of their homes.

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