Woodpeckers can become a nuisance around homes and other buildings because of both their repetitive drumming, which is typically used to attract a mate, and because they sometimes will build nests or roosts in wood siding or wood buildings. They also sometimes peck holes into wood siding and other wooden structures while looking for insects to eat. Woodpecker damage is most common in spring and fall, Wildlife Illinois reports.
Relentless drumming by woodpeckers can be annoying and intrusive, but the birds usually stop this behavior in the spring, once breeding season begins, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. While woodpeckers most often cause damage to wooden surfaces, they also may sometimes drum on aluminum siding, chimney caps and other metal surfaces that produce a lot of noise.
If woodpeckers are causing damage to your home because they are trying to get at insects in and under wooden surfaces, you may need to try to limit the insects in the wood by caulking or plugging any holes or tunnels created by the insects. Insecticides are not advised as they aren’t always effective in removing the insects, and they may harm birds as well, Wildlife Illinois reports.
You can try to keep woodpeckers away from under the eaves of your home by installing three-quarter-inch wire mesh netting, according to Wildlife Illinois. Attach the netting to the eaves and angle it back toward the siding, affixing it below where the damage has been caused. Netting should be attached tightly and tautly and set at least 3 inches from the siding to prevent the birds from pecking through. You can also place metal or plastic barriers over where the woodpeckers have caused damage to deter them from further drilling or pecking into the wood.
Some people have also had success deterring woodpeckers from causing damage around their homes by placing windsocks, pinwheels, reflective tape, aluminum foil strips and shiny Mylar balloons in the area, Cornell Lab reports.
Excavating of nesting and roosting cavities usually occurs in April and May. If you need to remove woodpeckers from your property, aim to do so either before or after nesting season, the Cornell Lab advises.
Do not use sticky repellents to keep woodpeckers away, Cornell Lab advises. The products can cause serious and sometimes fatal injuries to woodpeckers as well as other animals.
Yellow-bellied sapsuckers can damage tree trunks by their drilling behavior, which typically involves drilling rows of small holes in a trunk to get at the sap inside. If you notice trees being harmed by sapsucker activity, try wrapping burlap or quarter-inch hardware cloth around the trunk during the period when sapsuckers are in the area, Wildlife Illinois advises.
If woodpeckers on your property continue to cause damage after corrective measures have been taken, consider humanely removing and relocating them only as a last resort. Woodpeckers are protected by both the Illinois Wildlife Code and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and they cannot be removed from private property without proper federal and state permits. To request a removal permit for a woodpecker, contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Wildlife Services at 217.241.6700 or 1.866.4USDAWS.
All wildlife in Illinois are under the jurisdiction of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The Forest Preserve District of Will County does not treat, rescue or remove wildlife from public or private property. Both the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Wildlife Illinois maintain lists of wildlife rehabilitators you can contact for assistance with injured wildlife.
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