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Thread: Woodpecker Deterent

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    Default Woodpecker Deterent

    I have a small problem with a woodpecker that wants to build a nest under my yawning at the log house. My management company asked about a woodpecker deterrent additive you can add to a paint or stain? This isn't sold in Japan and I do not think reflective tape and stuff really works.

    I know BreakGuard in the US, but that is acrylic and comes in colors which doesn't help me since I need a natural wood stain.

    Anyone know of a product or tried and true method to discourage woodpeckers?

    I plan to have bird boxes installed on the far corners of the property to encourage nesting there.

    This is not looking for insects, this is nest building.

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    Default Re: Woodpecker Deterent

    Woodpeckers (and most birds) donít have much of a sense of smell really so I doubt the efficacy of any product that is going to repel by scent. More likely the products contain a poison of some sort that makes the bird sick or kills it. But thatís usually against the law (it is in the US.) Better approach is steel wool and mylar streamers. Fill the hole with steel wool and attach reflective mylar streamers (though not just mylar streamers - has to be with other deterrents) around the hole so the fluttering streamers disturb the birdís sense of safety.

    Or you can do what the owner of a house we rented did - bolt a piece of 1/8Ē sheet steel over the hole and surrounding area and color match it to the house.

    Iíve also seen someone insert a ďdummyĒ woodpecker sticking out of the hole, blocking the hole and convincing the bird that their house had been taken. Painting doesnít have to be perfect just mirror the pattern of the bird creating the hole.

    They are obsessive compulsive birds. Thatís how they find food - by looking in every hole and nook and cranny every day. Same with nest holes. So best to find a way to break the birdís habit. Squirrels are similarly compulsive and sometimes squirrels start a hole that woodpeckers finish. So if the woodpecker does leave, keep an eye out.

    Woodpeckers make nest holes and never use them. If they do use this one, removing the eggs and dunking them in vegetable oil will kill the embryo. Then put them back into the nest. The birds will continue to incubate the eggs until they realize the eggs are not viable. That usually happens when it is too late in the season for a second attempt. Done consistently, the birds will eventually abandon the nest site. But that may not be practical if the nest is not easily reached.
    Last edited by j44ke; 03-16-2023 at 07:44 AM.

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    Default Re: Woodpecker Deterent

    The suggestion in the last paragraph most likely is not kosher in the U.S., not sure about GB though.

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    Default Re: Woodpecker Deterent

    Quote Originally Posted by j44ke View Post
    Woodpeckers (and most birds) donít have much of a sense of smell really

    so I doubt the efficacy of any product that is going to repel by scent. More likely the products contain a poison of some sort that makes the bird sick or kills it. But thatís usually against the law (it is in the US.) Better approach is steel wool and mylar streamers. Fill the hole with steel wool and attach reflective mylar streamers (though not just mylar streamers - has to be with other deterrents) around the hole so the fluttering streamers disturb the birdís sense of safety.

    Or you can do what the owner of a house we rented did - bolt a piece of 1/8Ē sheet steel over the hole and surrounding area and color match it to the house.

    Iíve also seen someone insert a ďdummyĒ woodpecker sticking out of the hole, blocking the hole and convincing the bird that their house had been taken. Painting doesnít have to be perfect just mirror the pattern of the bird creating the hole.

    They are obsessive compulsive birds. Thatís how they find food - by looking in every hole and nook and cranny every day. Same with nest holes. So best to find a way to break the birdís habit. Squirrels are similarly compulsive and sometimes squirrels start a hole that woodpeckers finish. So if the woodpecker does leave, keep an eye out.

    Woodpeckers make nest holes and never use them. If they do use this one, removing the eggs and dunking them in vegetable oil will kill the embryo. Then put them back into the nest. The birds will continue to incubate the eggs until they realize the eggs are not viable. That usually happens when it is too late in the season for a second attempt. Done consistently, the birds will eventually abandon the nest site. But that may not be practical if the nest is not easily reached.
    Some birds have excellent smell - vultures, for example.


    And yes, poisoning songbirds in the USA is illegal, as is removing their eggs from the nest and killing them.

    Also, woodpeckers use sound a lot to forage.
    Go figure - they use it for communication too, which is often what all the noise is about.

    Want to make them stoked?
    Give them a piece of metal to bang on, whoa!
    Look how loud I am now, ladies !!!


    I have the taller house in the hood so the WP's want to live with me and one was very determined to do so (which included banging on the metal stovepipe, that'll get your attention as well as the WP ladies) and the only way I got him to quit was to built it a specific WP nest and it moved in & quit knocking on the house thankfully.

    This was a red-shafted flicker, but in addition I also have Gilas (they just yell at you) and ladder-backs, which mind their own business

    - Garro.
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    Default Re: Woodpecker Deterent

    I'm guessing the bird boxes are my best bet.

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    Default Re: Woodpecker Deterent

    Quote Originally Posted by vertical_doug View Post
    I'm guessing the bird boxes are my best bet.
    Probably. But as Garro says, you need something specifically tailored to the woodpecker species that is attacking your house. Hole size is important, shape of box, height mounted, etc. Make the hole the same size as what's on your house.

    And putting a food source out near that the "decoy" house" sometimes helps. Suet is a favorite of most woodpeckers.

    The 1/8" steel was not so loud. Sheet tin would have been loud.

    Garro must have acorn woodpeckers, though I've seen plenty in SE Arizona but don't remember them up near Flagstaff. But they are top dog when it comes to obsessive behaviors with food and shelter. They make holes to stash acorns in for later, so telephone poles work well for that. One hole for one acorn. For mass storage they make a hole in an old tree and spend every waking minute putting acorns in the hole. They are particularly fond of an acorn from a type of live oak that makes a nice olive-shaped acorn. Houses work too. Not uncommon for someone to do some repair work on a home and open a wall full of hundreds of acorns. Squirrels and chipmunks can do that too, but acorn woodpeckers seem particularly proficient.

    Re: vultures. Turkey vultures have a really good sense of smell, but black vultures' sense of smell is more limited. As a result, black vultures often watch for soaring turkey vultures to figure out where the fine dining locations are. Or they hang out at the dump where living is easy.
    Last edited by j44ke; 03-17-2023 at 12:46 PM.
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    Default Re: Woodpecker Deterent

    A woodpecker banging on a road sign nearly killed me one time when I was out running. I was deep in thought miles away from where I was and he waited until I was right there before having at it. Startled the hell out of me. I swear I heard him laughing.

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    Default Re: Woodpecker Deterent

    Quote Originally Posted by j44ke View Post
    Probably. But as Garro says, you need something specifically tailored to the woodpecker species that is attacking your house. Hole size is important, shape of box, height mounted, etc. Make the hole the same size as what's on your house.


    Garro must have acorn woodpeckers, though I've seen plenty in SE Arizona but don't remember them up near Flagstaff.
    Yeah- there were guideline online WRT hole size, etc and one I wouldn't have thought of, a piece of vertical branch instead of a dowel for a perch - yeah, we have Acorn WP's, but not too many, but immediately to the S of us along the Mogollon Rim they pick up, I think they have fairly large ranges too.

    One last thing that's real important is that the WP may also be telling you that you have a termite or carpenter ant issue - they did this to my neighbor, they were doing perfect horizontal lines which turned out to correspond with lines in the back of the paneling which the termites were using as highways, it could hear them (ladder backed) and was just following the trails and eating them.

    - Garro.
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    Default Re: Woodpecker Deterent

    Nothing really to add, but a funny story bout those peckerheads. When we bought our house a flicker came a banging on our exhaust vent on the top of the house. It sounded like a jackhammer and drove us and particularly our dog crazy. My neighbor across the street was the lead ornithologist at our local university. So I boldly go ask him what I can do to stop them from doing that? He told me that that was the #1 question at the Cornell Ornithology Hotline when he was there. Their standard reply was "move". I guess like Garro said a piece of metal really makes their day. Telling the world how manley he is. Here they only do that behavior in the Spring to attract women. On the morning dog walk today I noticed one banging away on the good doctors vent and had a good laugh. Count your blessings you don't have a pileated woodpecker problem. Those big suckers can do some serious structural damage to your trees.

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    Default Re: Woodpecker Deterent

    I'm guessing my childhood practice with a BB gun will come in handy since everyone is throwing in the towel.

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    Default Re: Woodpecker Deterent

    Quote Originally Posted by Moke View Post
    Nothing really to add, but a funny story bout those peckerheads. When we bought our house a flicker came a banging on our exhaust vent on the top of the house. It sounded like a jackhammer and drove us and particularly our dog crazy. My neighbor across the street was the lead ornithologist at our local university. So I boldly go ask him what I can do to stop them from doing that? He told me that that was the #1 question at the Cornell Ornithology Hotline when he was there. Their standard reply was "move". I guess like Garro said a piece of metal really makes their day. Telling the world how manley he is. Here they only do that behavior in the Spring to attract women. On the morning dog walk today I noticed one banging away on the good doctors vent and had a good laugh. Count your blessings you don't have a pileated woodpecker problem. Those big suckers can do some serious structural damage to your trees.
    This is an example of what the kids today are calling Toxic Masculinity.

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    Default Re: Woodpecker Deterent

    Quote Originally Posted by vertical_doug View Post
    I'm guessing my childhood practice with a BB gun will come in handy since everyone is throwing in the towel.
    Not really. Just most of the things sold probably won't work.
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    Default Re: Woodpecker Deterent

    Quote Originally Posted by Moke View Post
    Nothing really to add, but a funny story bout those peckerheads. When we bought our house a flicker came a banging on our exhaust vent on the top of the house. It sounded like a jackhammer and drove us and particularly our dog crazy. .
    It's unbelievable until you're heard it, it's super industrial like something mechanical going drastically wrong !!!

    - Garro.
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    Hecho en Flagstaff, Arizona desde 2003
    www.coconinocycles.com
    www.coconinocycles.blogspot.com

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    Default Re: Woodpecker Deterent

    Quote Originally Posted by vertical_doug View Post
    I'm guessing my childhood practice with a BB gun will come in handy since everyone is throwing in the towel.
    Nah !
    W.P. house.

    Bonus is, once you have one, it'll keep everything else from nesting on your house

    - Garro.
    Steve Garro, Coconino Cycles.
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    Hecho en Flagstaff, Arizona desde 2003
    www.coconinocycles.com
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    Default Re: Woodpecker Deterent

    Japan obviously is going to have different species of woodpecker, but here are two examples of houses.

    Northern Flickr (medium sized woodpecker mentioned above)

    Pileated woodpecker - largest North American woodpecker (crow size)

    The Pileated would be similar size to the Black Woodpecker in Japan. The Flicker would be similar size to a Japanese Green Woodpecker.
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    Default Re: Woodpecker Deterent

    For the record, this is what the little peckers did....





    I spoke to my neighbor, he had a problem a while back, but installed streamers and other reflective material.

    But all in all, not as bad as the time the giant asian hornets (susumebachi) decided to build a nest inside the eaves here. That was a life and death scenario since they'd occasionally end up inside the cabin.







    Now post pandemic, I have time to renovate and give the cabin some TLC again.

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    Default Re: Woodpecker Deterent

    Those look almost entirely upside down under the eaves. That seems pretty unlikely as a nest hole. Most woodpecker nests are roughly vertical in orientation if only to keep nestlings inside the nest and not tumbling out. More likely - as mentioned above - a hole made in the search for grubs or other insects in the wood. Or a hole made by a squirrel that perhaps your maintenance company has seen woodpeckers exploring. The other marks definitely look like a woodpecker following a tunnel for some sort of borer insect within the wood. Giant hornets could have been there for the same reason - predation on large borer insects.

    If I saw those holes in a house where we live here in NY, I'd say there a pretty good chance the house had flying squirrels living in it. Looks like Japan has a species of native flying squirrel. That's almost exactly what they look like. If no one lives in the house and the only visitor merely stops by in the day time to check on the house and mow the lawn, no one would have ever seen a flying squirrel. They are almost entirely nocturnal, and people only know they have them when they hear noises in the ceiling about an hour after complete darkness when the squirrels leave and about 3-4AM when they return.
    Last edited by j44ke; 03-18-2023 at 07:59 AM.
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    Default Re: Woodpecker Deterent

    That's not actually small boring holes, those are the left over glue where hornet nests were attached. Hornets love the house and it is a constant battle.

    The large holes only look upside down, they are actually at a 30-40 degree angle. The builder and the neighbor think it was a woodpecker.

    The last thing I need is giant flying japanese squirrels.

    The giant asian hornet (susumebachi) doesn't eat boring insects. It likes to eat flying insects. It eats bees, grasshoppers, praying mantis, catepillars, just about anything walking around. It will even it carrion.

    The whole point of building the house out of western red cedar is it is basically bug proof. The house smells like an immense cedar chest.

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    Default Re: Woodpecker Deterent

    Quote Originally Posted by vertical_doug View Post
    That's not actually small boring holes, those are the left over glue where hornet nests were attached. Hornets love the house and it is a constant battle.

    The large holes only look upside down, they are actually at a 30-40 degree angle. The builder and the neighbor think it was a woodpecker.

    The last thing I need is giant flying japanese squirrels.

    The giant asian hornet (susumebachi) doesn't eat boring insects. It likes to eat flying insects. It eats bees, grasshoppers, praying mantis, catepillars, just about anything walking around. It will even it carrion.

    The whole point of building the house out of western red cedar is it is basically bug proof. The house smells like an immense cedar chest.
    Even 30-40 degree angle, they are on the underside of the eaves. Perfect launching angle for launching a gliding mammal but not so much for a woodpecker. I can't tell you how many times I've seen holes on houses like that while we were shopping for a place in the country, and the realtor said oh yeah woodpecker damage. Always in the eaves or just beneath the eaves on the side of the house to gain enough elevation for gliding into the trees. My money is on flying squirrels.

    Way to catch them is to fit a square "tube" of wire mesh over the hole with a one-way door. Do it midday when the squirrels are inside sleeping. Next morning you should see this:



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    Default Re: Woodpecker Deterent

    Regular kine squirrels put holes like that in my neighbors eaves. Squirrels in the attic are a bad bad problem too. Keep us posted when you get it figured out. Beautiful home you have there.

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