How To Get Rid of Woodpeckers? | + 11 Best Woodpecker Deterrents To Buy

Written by Thomas Matthews

After a few days of listening to a woodpecker’s rapping, you’re ready to scream “Nevermore!” If that woodpecker is busy tapping holes in your deck or your siding, you want to know the best way to get rid of woodpeckers.

How to get rid of woodpeckers? To get rid of woodpeckers without killing them, you can scare them away or employ some humane pest control to keep them from creating holes in your trees. Use only safe and effective techniques, as they are protected by federal law.

This article will show you how to deter woodpeckers. You will learn the best ways to get rid of woodpeckers and find out the 11 best woodpecker deterrents you can buy. If you’re tired of that tap-tap-tapping, don’t worry, as help is on the way.

Woodpecker Identification

Before we fight, we must know our enemy. Here are some helpful facts about the woodpeckers you want to deter. Understanding what woodpeckers like – and what they don’t like – is the key to getting rid of woodpeckers.

What Is a Woodpecker?

What Is a Woodpecker

Woodpeckers get their name from their feeding habits. Alighting on a tree, they peck the wood with their strong beaks in search of insects and larvae hiding under the bark. Their short, strong legs and stiff tail feathers help them climb vertically up the trunk.  

What Does a Woodpecker Look Like?

Woodpeckers vary in size and plumage. But they all have long and sharp beaks. Woodpeckers also have zygodactyl feet, with two toes pointing forward and two backward. This gives them a powerful grip that keeps them in place as they repeatedly hammer against the wood.  

How Big Are Woodpeckers?

North America’s smallest woodpecker, the Downy Woodpecker, is between 5.5 and 7 inches (13.97 and 17.78 cm) long with a 10 to 12-inch (25.4 to 30.48 cm) wingspan. Our biggest woodpecker, the Pileated Woodpecker, is between 16 and 19 inches long (40.64 and 48.26 cm) with a 26 to 30-inch (66.04 to 76.2 cm) wingspan.   

What Does a Woodpecker Sound Like?

Depending on the species, woodpeckers make many different calls. But you are most likely to hear a woodpecker pecking. If you hear a consistent series of fast-paced beats, the woodpecker signifies its territory or seeks a mate. Irregular rhythms mean they are looking for food.

Where Do Woodpeckers Live?

Where Do Woodpeckers Live

According to the International Ornithological Congress, there are 236 different woodpecker species around the world; at least sixteen woodpecker species are found in North America. Woodpeckers are found everywhere except Australia, New Guinea, Madagascar, and Antarctica.

How Long Do Woodpeckers Live?

Within a few weeks after they hatch, young woodpeckers are on their own. Most do not survive the first winter. Those who make it will nest and mate the following season. Researchers tracing banded woodpeckers have found they can live as long as nine to twelve years if they avoid goshawks, cats, and other predators.  

Are Woodpeckers Protected?

All woodpeckers are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). Control methods that do not harm the bird or an active nest are allowed for most woodpeckers. There are a few woodpecker species that are considered threatened or endangered and have additional protections. If you are not sure about your woodpeckers, check with your local wildlife officials.  

Types of Woodpeckers

North America’s most commonly-seen woodpeckers include:

Less commonly seen are woodpeckers like:

  • Ivory-Billed Woodpecker: Though extinct for nearly 70 years, Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers may have been spotted in Arkansas in 2004.
  • Red-Cockaded Woodpecker: Once common throughout the southeastern United States, there are now less than 10,000 remaining in the last old-growth pine forests.

What Do Woodpeckers Eat?

What Do Woodpeckers Eat

A woodpecker’s primary diet consists of insects, grubs, and larvae pulled from tree bark. Sapsuckers are most interested in the sap they can suck but will happily consume any bugs they find while making holes. But all of them supplement their diets with berries, seeds, nuts, or suet. 

What Attracts Woodpeckers?

Woodpeckers come to new territory in search of food and mates. Most woodpeckers are monogamous and mate for life, but they will eat wherever they find a tasty meal. Once they find a suitable spot, they bear space to raise their woodpecker babies. (This is easier than human parenting as baby woodpeckers leave the nest within three to five weeks.)  

Why Do Woodpeckers Peck Wood?

Woodpeckers eat the bugs in the trees. They also engage in drumming to communicate with other woodpeckers. Depending on the context, their drumming can mean “Stay off my turf!” or “Looking for a lovely woodpecker lady.” Once they mate, woodpeckers will peck wood to create or expand space for their family. 

Are Woodpeckers Bad for Trees?

Woodpeckers eat parasites that can harm or even kill trees, but woodpecker holes can also become entryways for fungi or other infections. For example, the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker creates a series of horizontal holes that can drain a tree of sap, and Pileated Woodpeckers can split smaller trees in half when creating their large oval nesting holes.   

How Do You Get Rid of Woodpeckers?

Here are a few ways you can get rid of woodpecker problems:

How To Get Rid of Woodpeckers Pecking Your House?

How To Get Rid of Woodpeckers Pecking Your House

Bees, termites, or ants may be why a woodpecker is pecking at your house. Check with an exterminator to see if your trim or siding is harboring parasites. The best way to protect your house from woodpeckers may involve protecting it from bugs. 

How To Get Rid of Woodpeckers on Cedar Siding?

Hang chicken wire or bird netting two or three inches away from your siding. This will keep the woodpeckers away from your cedar siding. You will have to leave this mesh in place for a while after you repel the woodpeckers from your cedar siding. But it is an effective if perhaps unsightly, way to stop woodpeckers from pecking on your house and siding.

How To Get Rid of Woodpeckers on a Chimney?

If woodpeckers are pecking on your chimney, they have discovered your chimney amplifies their drumming. Reflective woodpecker tape or mirrors may scare them off the way they are trying to scare off competitors.  

Related: How to Get Rid of Chimney Swifts? | Proven Strategies and Solutions

How To Get Rid of Woodpeckers on a Deck?

Since owls eat woodpeckers, an owl decoy will discourage woodpeckers from landing on your deck. You may want to move the decoy around every day or two. Woodpeckers are intelligent, and sooner or later, they will figure out that your stationary owl isn’t real.

How To Get Rid of Woodpeckers on Trees?

How To Get Rid of Woodpeckers on Trees

Hanging reflective materials on the branches is a good way of discouraging woodpeckers. CDs and reflective wind chimes are popular choices. You can also apply repellents to the bark to make your tree woodpecker unfriendly.  

How To Get Rid of Woodpeckers on Stucco?

If woodpeckers are hammering on your stucco, they are likely trying to build a nesting hole. Check the stucco and plug up any holes immediately. You may want to apply netting, mirrors, or both, as woodpeckers can do a great deal of damage to a stucco finish.

11 Best Woodpecker Deterrents/Repellents in 2021

Woodpecker Repellent Disks:

Chephon Upgraded Bird Scare Discs Set - Large 24 Discs- Highly Reflective Double-Sided Bird Reflectors, Better Scare Devices to Keep All Birds Away Like Woodpecker and Pigeon
  • ✔ IDEAL for BIRD CONTROL - Keep your gardens, crops, windows,...
  • ✔ SUPERIOR BIRD REFLECTORS - Perfect pigeons, sparrows, geese...
  • ✔ UPGRADED VERSION - 8 pack and each has 3 Double-Sided...
  • ✔ WORK CLEVERLY - Scare birds away without anyhharm to them by...
  • ✔ EASY to INSTALL - The smooth edges secure a smooth assembly....

Many pest control professionals say the best woodpecker repellent is shiny disks like the Chephon Upgraded Bird Scare Discs Set.

Woodpecker Tape:

Home-X Reflective Ribbon to Keep Birds Away, Bird Deterrent for Garden, Yard, Patio, and More, Holographic Bird-Repellent Tape, 1 ¼” W x 118 ft Long, Shiny Silver
  • HOLOGRAPHIC BIRD TAPE: This holographic ribbon is designed to...
  • PIGEON REPELLENT: This non-adhesive ribbon tape is meant to scare...
  • NESTING OUTDOOR RIBBON: If you have trouble with birds nesting in...
  • SAFE FOR BIRDS: This is a safe, nature-friendly way to repel...
  • GREAT GIFT: HOME-X Reflective Ribbon makes a great gift for any...

The shiny holographic pattern is what deters woodpeckers when using the Home-X Reflective Ribbon. Flickering reflections discourage woodpeckers from landing on trees, chimneys, or walls.

Ultrasonic Woodpecker Repellent:

Bird-X Balcony Gard, Ultrasonic Bird Preventer, Outdoor Bird Decoy with Motion-Sensor, Easy to Install, Covers up to 900 sq. ft., 15 to 25 kHz Frequency, 6.75" x 5.5" x 3.5"
  • Bird Preventer: The Bird-X Balcony Gard is an ultrasonic bird...
  • Wide Coverage: Our weather-resistant and fully programmable bird...
  • Versatile Bird Decoy: With a sound pressure of 90 dB at 1 meter...
  • Humane and Reliable: With our ultrasonic bird preventer, you can...
  • Easy Operation and Installation: Featuring motion-activated and...

The Bird-X Balcony Gard Ultrasonic Bird Repeller works outside our hearing. Your unwanted deck guests will hear a loud, frightening woodpecker deterrent sound.

Woodpecker Repellent Gel:

The JT Eaton 4-The-Birds Bird Repellent Gel leaves a sticky surface that makes woodpeckers uncomfortable when trying to walk on it. Apply this on woodpecker-damaged trees or cedar shingles.

Woodpecker Repellent Balloons:

Kurala 3 PCS Bird Balloons, Reflective Eyes Balloon Bird Repellent, Keep Birds Away Garden
  • Keep Birds Away: Protect your gardens, crops, windows, boats,...
  • Highly Effective: Bright colors, reflective predator eyes and...
  • Eco-friendly: Kurala bird balloon is wildlife friendly. It...
  • Easy to Use: Simply inflate, apply eye sticker and hang scare...
  • Ideal Choice: Includes three detached bird balloons. Deliver...

Bird balloons like the Kurala Bird Balloons With Reflective Eyes look to woodpeckers like predators with mirror eyes. Hang these from your porch and watch the woodpeckers fly away.

Woodpecker Deterrent Liquid:

Bird Repellent, Bird Stop
  • Country Of Origin: United States
  • Package Weight: 4.264 Kilograms
  • Package Height: 24.13 Centimeters
  • Package Length: 13.208 Centimeters

The bitter but harmless Bird-X BS-GAL Bird Stop Liquid Bird Deterrent will make woodpeckers find Bird Stop-smeared surfaces distasteful.

Woodpecker-deterring Insecticide:

Repels-All Animal Repellent Concentrate - 32 Ounces
  • Bonide 237 Animal Repellent Bottle, Concentrate
  • Unique blend causes a mild, yet annoying, irritation to the...
  • Lasts up to 2 months per application
  • Works 3 ways to repel animals and stop plant and property damage
  • Pack of 1(pack may vary)

The Repels-All Animal Repellent Concentrate kills the insects that woodpeckers eat and gives them much less incentive to stick around.

Anti-woodpecker Owl Decoy:

Hedoc Fake Owl Decoys to Scare Birds Away, Rotating Head Sculptures, Nature Enemy Scarecrow Plastic Statues, Pest Repellent, Bird Control and Pigeon Deterrent Outdoor Yard, Garden Protectors
  • Why Choose Our Owl Statue - Owl decoy lifelike bobble head is...
  • Non-fading Owl Decorations - The fake owl for bird deterrent is...
  • No Battery Required - The decoy owl head rotates 360 degrees and...
  • Easy To Install - The bottom of the owl has an anchor, you can...
  • Eco-friendly And Wildlife Friendly Protector - The bird repellent...

The Hedoc Owl Decoy With Rotating Head moves with the wind, making it a more realistic decoy. Put this moving owl on your dock, and woodpeckers will seek other buffets.

Woodpecker Spikes:

Bird Spikes for Pigeons Small Birds Cat Cover 192 Inch, OneSight Anti Bird Spikes Stainless Steel Bird Deterrent Spikes Repellent Fence Spikes(14 Packs
  • 【Effective and Humane Bird Spikes】One Sight bird spikes serve...
  • 【14 Pack Provide 15 Feet of Coverage】Each stainless-steel...
  • 【Weather-Resistant Material】Made of premium 304 stainless...
  • 【Flexible & High Density】Cleverly designed with high-density...
  • 【Easy Installation & Maintain】Bird deterrent spikes have...

The One Sight Bird Spikes will make your woodpecker’s resting spots much less comfortable. Bird spikes stop New York pigeons from landing, so they should certainly deter your woodpeckers.

Woodpecker Netting:

Bird-X Standard Bird Netting, Ideal for Gardens and Lightweight Applications, UV-Stabilized Mesh Netting with 3/4" Hole Opening, Easy to Install, 100' x 14'
  • Reliable Physical Barrier: Utilize our 3/4" Standard Bird Netting...
  • Diverse Applications: Our mesh netting is suitable for various...
  • Comprehensive Bird Exclusion: Say goodbye to unwanted intruders...
  • Multi-Faceted Benefits: Made in the USA and available in various...
  • Durable Net: Crafted with weather-resistant, lightweight,...

Use the Bird-X Standard Netting to protect homes and trees from woodpecker holes. Netting makes it impossible for woodpeckers to climb on the surface and peck their calling card.

Woodpecker Suet Cakes:

ST. ALBANS BAY SUET PLUS High Energy Suet Cakes, 20 Pack of 11 oz. Suet Cakes for Wild Birds
  • High Quality 11 oz. Suet Cakes. Approx. Size: 5” x 5” x 1”
  • Premium Quality, Melt-Resistant Formula. Store in a cool dry area...
  • Easy-Open No Mess Packaging. 100% recyclable.
  • Attracts tree-clinging and perching birds such as Chickadees,...
  • Ingredients include Rendered Beef Suet, Cracked Corn, Black Oil...

While you’re trying to get rid of your woodpeckers for good, why not offer them a better alternative? A block of the St. Albans Bay Suet Plus High Energy Suet Cakes is tastier than anything they will find in your deck.

How To Get Rid of Woodpeckers Naturally?

The best way to get rid of woodpeckers naturally is to play on their fear of mirrors, predators, and flashing lights. Like other birds, woodpeckers navigate more by sight and hearing than by smell. But some scents woodpeckers avoid are citronella, garlic, and peppermint. 

Best Home Remedies To Get Rid of Woodpeckers

If you want to try some essential oils to get rid of woodpeckers, put ten drops of peppermint oil in a cup that is half water and half white vinegar. Add a drop or two of dish soap. This is an excellent spray to get rid of woodpeckers in areas where you are having problems.

How To Keep Woodpeckers Away?

One of the best ways to keep woodpeckers away from your home and your vulnerable trees is to give them better food. A bird feeder filled with suet and seed will keep your woodpeckers’ bellies full and make them less likely to seek food in your deck or siding. 

List of Sources

Payne, J. M. (1994). Woodpeckers. Penn State Extension.
Ryan, B. (2020). Do Woodpeckers Damage Trees? Penn State Extension.
Salmon, T.P. et al (2005). Pests in Gardens and Landscapes: Woodpeckers. University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources.
U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. Woodpeckers – inflicting damage on property.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Woodpecker Biology and Behavior.

Thomas Matthews
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