There are 5 species of woodpeckers that you could see on an average day in the Northeast. They range from the small downy woodpecker up to the crow-sized pileated woodpecker. Woodpeckers can cause a great deal of property damage as well as some sleepless mornings. Many studies suggest that the area that the bird picks for drumming is developed as a habit and the birds will drum for a while and then stop. In one study, the birds stopped drumming 50 percent of the time within two weeks whether the homeowners did anything or not. It is best to try to break the woodpeckers drumming before it becomes a habit.
Woodpeckers drum (peck) at trees and houses for basically three reasons: searching for insects within the wood, creating cavities for nesting and shelter and drumming. Drumming is a means of communication between woodpeckers. Just as songbirds sing, woodpeckers drum as a means of communication. There are different drumming patterns that these birds may use: mating, alarm, or territorial. These sounds can be heard over long distances, especially if they use a surface with adequate acoustic properties.
As we explore methods to discourage woodpeckers from damaging your property, remember that woodpeckers are a federally protected bird under the North American Migratory Bird Act; You can’t use lethal control measures on woodpeckers without first contacting your Federal Wildlife Officer.
Unfortunately, there is no easy guaranteed solution. So with that being said, try the following strategies:
1. Check for insects. Woodpeckers feed on insects in wood.
2. Cover all damage as soon as possible. Place aluminum flashing over the areas where the woodpecker is pecking. The flashing will stop the pecking at that spot because: a) it is metal, b) it changes the sound, and c) woodpeckers don’t like shiny objects. Just make sure that the woodpecker is not living in your home.
3. Scare the woodpecker away!
Also, as soon as you notice problems, take action quickly before the woodpecker decides your home is a nice place to live. If the attack on windows is a regular occurrence and not just an accidental window strike, the likely behavior is a reaction to the bird seeing an intruder on its territory. A simple solution to this problem is to cover the window with screens or rub the window with a bar of soap to decrease the reflection. Mylar tape or balloons also work to keep the birds away from your windows