Woodpecker Tree Damage: Preventing And Repairing Woodpecker Damage
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Woodpecker damage to trees can be a serious problem. Woodpecker tree damage can cause trees to become diseased or even die. Because of this, it is important to stop woodpecker damage before it hurts or kills beloved trees in your yard. Keep reading to learn more about how to prevent woodpecker damage and the steps for repairing woodpecker damage once it has happened.
Identification of Woodpecker Damage to Trees
Woodpecker tree damage normally appears as holes in trees. Depending on the species of woodpecker that is pecking at your tree, these holes may be clustered or in a straight line. While most of the time these holes are small in diameter, if the woodpecker has settled on your tree as a nesting spot, the hole can be quite large.
Woodpecker holes in trees happen for a variety of reasons. In many cases, woodpeckers are going after insects that are in the tree ,which means that not only do you have a woodpecker problem, you may have an insect problem as well. Other types of woodpeckers may be creating holes in your trees so that they can get at the sap of the tree. Other reasons a woodpecker may be pecking on trees is to build nests, attract mates and even store food.
In most cases, woodpecker damage to trees itself is not very harmful to the tree, but does create wounds that diseases and insects can enter the tree. In extreme cases of woodpecker holes in trees, the tree trunk or branch may become girdled, which causes the area above the girdled bark to die.
How to Prevent Woodpecker Damage
The best way to stop woodpecker damage is to keep the woodpecker from getting to the tree in the first place. Bird netting is a popular way to keep woodpeckers from getting at trees but other methods, such as using sticky substances on the trunk, will also work. Several commercial products are sold that can be applied to the trunk of the affected tree and will make it difficult for the woodpecker to land on the tree. You can also wrap the trunk in mesh or cloth to help deter woodpeckers.
Another way to prevent woodpecker damage is to frighten them away. Hanging mirrors, old CDs, Mylar strips or other reflective objects from the affect tree will help to frighten away woodpeckers. Loud or startling noises can work to frighten the woodpecker away, but must be persistently repeated to permanently scare the bird away from the tree. Decoy predators, such as plastic hawks and owls, can be used but stop working quickly once the woodpecker determines they are not actually a threat.
All species of woodpeckers are at least somewhat protected by federal and local laws, this means that intentionally killing woodpeckers is illegal and is not recommended.
Tips for Repairing Woodpecker Damage
Before doing anything to repair woodpecker holes in trees, first examine the damage. Determine if there has, in fact, been damage to the tree and, if so, how bad it is. Remember, just because you see a woodpecker pecking on the tree does not mean that there will be damage.
After you determine what kind of woodpecker tree damage you have, you can make a plan to repair it. If the damage is small (a few holes that are an inch (2.5 cm.) or smaller), the best thing you can do for your tree is to not do anything to repair it. Filling in these holes can trap disease against the wound in the tree and make it worse. Treat the woodpecker holes with a fungicide to keep disease from getting in and let the wounds heal over naturally. Check the damaged area frequently until it is healed over and treat immediately if you see insect activity or rot.
For larger woodpecker holes in trees or for many holes in the tree, treat the woodpecker damage with fungicide and cover the damage with hardware cloth (galvanized mesh). The hardware cloth can be attached to the tree with small bolts. Only cover the damaged area and do not encircle the tree with the mesh. Going all the way around the tree could harm it as it grows. The mesh will keep out animals and prevent further damage while the tree heals.
Prevention And Repair Of Woodpecker Damage
Woodpeckers that eat insects are much less problematic than woodpeckers that are sap eating. Insect eaters usually only feed or nest in already dead wood and are usually considered more or less harmless to a tree. Sapsucker Woodpeckers however, attack the living wood of healthy trees and will often re-visit the tree to expand the size of the its holes in the search of fresh tree sap. Repeat attacks such as these can girdle branches or the entire tree and ultimately cause it to die. When a Woodpecker damages a perfectly healthy tree it can become a serious problem. Tree damage thats caused by woodpecker's can leave the tree vulnerable to diseases or in some cases, even kill the tree. Due to the health of the tree being at risk, it is very important to stop the woodpecker damage before it kills your valuable trees.
How to Get Rid of Woodpeckers
To get rid of woodpeckers that have already made themselves at home in your yard, it’s best to use a technique that will scare them off. Always avoid solutions that could harm woodpeckers, such as sticky substances that trap the birds. Instead, use one of these four ideas that have been proven to help ward off woodpeckers safely.
- Hang up a shiny object. A mirror (or aluminum foil if you’re in a pinch) near the spot where a woodpecker has made its home will show the bird its reflection when it returns, startling it and potentially scaring it away from the area.
- Set up a wind chime or a pinwheel near the spot. The noise or motion these objects make in the wind may fool your woodpecker into thinking a predator is near and deter them from coming any closer.
- Set up a pretend predator. Because owls prey on woodpeckers, artificial decoy owls often serve as effective deterrents. You can purchase readymade decoys on the internet (view example on Amazon), at home improvement centers, and many local garden stores. Opt for ones with reflective eyes, which look more realistic.
- Spook them with noise. This last simple deterrent (no purchase necessary!) only requires you to clap your hands, whoop, or make another loud noise to frighten the bird off if you’re outdoors and you see one.
How to Get Rid of Woodpeckers
Last Updated: March 30, 2021 References Approved
This article was co-authored by Elmer Bensinger. Elmer Bensinger is a Pest Control Specialist based in Olympia, Washington. With over 20 years of experience, Elmer specializes in integrated pest management and products such as insecticides and rodenticides. He studied business at South Puget Sound Community College. Elmer is the CEO of Mathis Exterminating and the Vice President of Operations and Customer Success of Certus Pest Inc. in Olympia.
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As cute as woodpeckers can be, you certainly don’t appreciate it when they drill away loudly against some nearby surface. At best, the sounds they make can be a rude awakening. At worst, a woodpecker can cause expensive damage to your home’s siding. So, what can you do to get rid of these feathered neighbors? We’ve put together this helpful list of things you can try! Note that woodpeckers are federally protected in the United States, so it’s illegal to harm or kill them.
Why would a woodpecker peck on my house?
This place is a prime target for woodpecker damage – wood siding, natural color, wooded area. Looks like a wood roof too.
Scientists have done a few studies that turned up some interesting insights on this issue.
It seems that woodpeckers are strongly attracted to wood siding 4 Harding, Emily G. Vehrencamp, Sandra L. and Curtis, Paul D., “External characteristics of houses prone to woodpecker damage” (2009). Human–Wildlife Interactions. 31. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/hwi/31 that is stained or painted in earth tones. If the house is covered in that material and located in a heavily wooded area or lot, it is virtually certain to be damaged by woodpeckers.
Soft cedar, rough pine and redwood siding gets the worst treatment, but plywood siding with grooves in it gets, er, hammered too 5 Craven, Scott and Drake, David., Woodpecker Ecology & Damage Management G3997-008, University of Wisconsin-Extension, Cooperative Extension, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Wisconsin
counties, 2012 . Also on the hit list: wood shakes/shingles, decking, rails and trim.
Even metal siding sometimes takes a beating. Stucco is another easy target for pesky woodpeckers.
On the other hand, researchers found that houses which are painted white or light pastel colors suffer far less woodpecker damage than houses dressed in earth tones.