Research on Stopping Damage by Woodpeckers
In a 2007 article entitled assessment of management techniques to reduce woodpecker damage to homes published in the Journal of Wildlife Management, Emily G Harding, Paul D. Curtis and Sandra L Vehrencamp provide some interesting information for homeowners struggling with woodpecker damage.
Cornell Study on Woodpecker Damage
Their study took place around Cornell University in the Lakes region of New York. In that part of the country six woodpeckers are commonly implicated in damaging homes namely the pileated woodpecker, Northern flicker, red bellied woodpecker, Harry woodpecker, downy woodpecker, and yellow bellied sapsucker. Interestingly they explain that some researchers found that the average homeowner who suffers from woodpecker damage sustains about $300 worth of damage to his/her home.
Lack of Research on Woodpecker Damage
It is no surprise that given the damage that woodpeckers cause there are a number of tools and techniques used to control the damage. The problem is little research has been done on the relative effectiveness of these techniques. Their focus was on those techniques that can be left in place rather than something that was temporary, such as spraying the woodpeckers with water. As a side note, their literature review revealed that applying methyl anthranilate to wood is not effective on woodpeckers because woodpeckers don’t eat the wood.
Woodpecker Control Techniques
For our purposes I just want to focus on the findings there’ve for the use of Irri-tape™, Bird Pro Sound system with a hawk call, and suet feeders. The point of the suet was to see if offering the woodpeckers food would distract them from damaging the house. Unfortunately the study was rather small involving only 16 homes with active woodpecker damage. The results however are still important as they may be helpful for others to determine what their first line of attack should be when woodpecker problem arises. Results were that irritate resolved 50% of the damage complaints where was used. It was by far the most effective device the bird Pro sound system and suet peters were successful in that placed which placed third and second respectively.
They also observed that earth-tone colored homes were almost twice as likely to suffer damage as pastel or white colored homes regardless of their siding.
Their study did not answer the question of whether a more rapid initiation of control would’ve had better fax as all these homes have established damage when they began. Nor did they answer what effect using multiple control techniques would’ve had on resolving woodpecker damage.
Most Effective Woodpecker Control Method
Bottom Line: Irri-tape™ worked the best. But I want to warn you that in their study strips were hung every several feet from a rope. Homeowners with high sensitivities to aesthetics may find this problematic.
About the Author
Stephen M Vantassel, CWCP, is a wildlife damage management specialist available for speaking, writing, consultation, and research.