woodpeckers

Master Gardener: Protect your home from the wrath of woodpeckers

Answer: Woodpeckers can cause a lot of damage to a house! Several years ago, I noticed drywall dust on my bedroom nightstand, looked up, and discovered a hole in the wall. A pileated woodpecker had pecked through the cedar siding, sheeting, insulation, and drywall, causing $1,000 worth of damage. I then discovered that insurance doesn’t cover damage from birds. During the past week I have been chasing them off the house every time I happen to hear rat-a-tat-tat.

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There are nine species of woodpeckers found in Minnesota. Flickers and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers leave for the winter, but the others stay here year-round. Don’t consider shooting them out your window because woodpeckers are a protected species — it is illegal to kill or trap one without a permit. Wood siding, especially soft wood like cedar, attracts woodpeckers who leave behind holes ranging in size from one-fourth inch to one inch or more. Woodpeckers peck for three reasons: communicating, feeding, or roosting. They often focus on the area just below the eaves. The “drumming” you hear is the woodpecker searching the house for hollow spaces. If a woodpecker is looking for food it will usually leave several small (less than one-half inch) feeding holes scattered over an area or formed into rows. One or two larger holes (an inch or more) are typically a sign of roosting or nesting behavior. It is critical to take action as soon as a woodpecker starts making holes in your siding, and before it has time to make it a part of its routine.

There are some techniques you can try to scare off your woodpeckers, but before you begin, cover or repair any existing holes. For small pea-sized holes,

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