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Nuisance Species: Woodpeckers

There are seven species of woodpeckers in Ohio. The majority of woodpeckers do most of their pecking on dead or dying trees. Woodpeckers peck for several reasons: to announce their territory, to feed on insects and to excavate nest cavities. In suburban areas woodpeckers may use houses and drain spouts. No one really knows why, but natural wood siding, a house's large size and better sound production may make houses seem like supertrees to the birds. The key to control is to take action as soon as the woodpecker shows signs of becoming a pest.

A troublesome woodpecker may be discouraged by employing one or a combination of techniques:

  • Open a nearby window and shout or bang pans whenever the woodpecker is heard
  • Hang strips of foil, streamers, cloth, toy snakes, owl decoys or cut-out hawk silhouettes near the problem area to frighten the bird
  • Spray a water hose near the bird to frighten it
  • Eliminate any ledges or cracks the woodpecker may be using when pecking
  • Cover the damaged area with screen, hardware cloth or sheet metal until the bird has been discouraged.

Repair any damage caused by the woodpecker promptly. If insects in the siding seem to be the cause, caulk all the tunnels in the siding. Insecticides and toxic wood preservatives seem to repel woodpeckers as well as providing wood care benefits.

Woodpeckers are protected by federal and state laws. They may only be captured or killed with a special permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Animal Damage Control. Call the Division of Wildlife for phone numbers.