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What is the best way to patch woodpecker holes and deter the woodpeckers from returning?

I was thinking of filling the holes with Great Stuff, having the house sprayed inside/outside for insects and buying some fake owls. Thoughts?

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That's an interesting question! At least they aren't eating your roofing nails. radionz.co.nz/news/national/102235/… –  Matt Jul 11 '13 at 23:34
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11 Answers 11

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Spraying inside the hole with spray foam such as great stuff then after letting it dry using some wood putty seems to be the best solution I've found.

As for woodpeckers, there are typically two possible reasons they've decided to decimate your house. First is insects. This was our main problem, we had a bad carpenter bee problem in our fascia and the woodpeckers were burrowing to get the bees. Take care of the insects and eventually the woodpeckers will go away. Secondly, woodpeckers might have decided to call your house their home, if this is the case usually using deterrents can make them decide to call somewhere else home. The best thing I've found is aluminum foil. As they start to peck on a spot on your house, tape some aluminum foil over top the spot they were pecking. You'll probably only have to do this once or twice and they'll move on if there aren't insects. I have a cedar home and battled the little guys the first 3 years of owning it.

You could shoot them with a pellet gun but they're protected under the migratory bird act making that illegal....

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Over a period of 22 years (when we initially bought this townhouse) we tried everything (owls, aluminum twirling devices, a concoction of chili peppers (blended to make a paste) and applied to the siding (this was recommended by U.S. Fish and Game specialist). Nothing worked.

Then we were advised by our local pest control service to hang a netting, similar to what is used to protect homes on golf course areas. The pest control company screwed the netting to our top floor (under the eaves) at an angle to the bottom story (we had a 3 story building). The netting was used primarily in the back and side of the unit. It wasn't that noticeable as it blended in with our neutral blue/gray paint color on the siding. This worked-- the netting was installed 8 years ago and is still doing the job of deterring woodpeckers.

Meanwhile our neighbor has 6 woodpecker holes and the woodpeckers have pulled out the insulation to make their nests. We see 2 to 3 woodpeckers sitting in the holes every day. They are very destructive and since they are a 'protected' species in our area you cannot legally shoot them.

Although the netting was costly (over $900.00) it has protected our property.

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I put two fake owls at $10 each on each end of the house at the corner. No more pecking. I plan to use a vent cover - metal outside and a wooden stick on the inside tightened by a bolt. I will paint it this spring. It's a 4 inch hole and I saw him fly OUT of it one morning after his tapping. If this fails however, my 22 pistol has snake shot in it. Oh, almost forgot, I used to live in a vinyl siding house and they love to tap that too. Must be his loud tapping is equal to our driving large cars for attention.

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-1 for suggesting to shoot the birds. –  Danny T. Dec 27 '13 at 19:04
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Use Minwax Woodfiller to filler the holes. It is like bondo for doing bodywork on cars - made of fiberglass. You take a golf ball size dollop of it and mix about 3/4" of the white catalyst that comes with it in a tube. If you have cedar siding then use a wire brush to gently create a rough wood look if needed. You have about 10 minutes to work with it before it sets, then it is permanently hard. You can paint it, sand it & drill it. However, it will not take a transparent stain, so you may wan to experiment with it and various finishes before using it.

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Some years ago woodpeckers were making holes in my cedar siding. After trying a few things like steel wool, foam and wood putty I finally hit on a patch material for the holes. Vinyl Concrete Patch does the trick. I have patches that have withstood Minnesota weather for 15 years. The patch is easy to mix, apply and paint over without leaving a very visble patch. The woodpeckers occasionally try a new area, but I haven't seen them try to remove one of the concrete patches. Good luck.

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Try mixing Spic And Span with water and washing the area they are pecking.

It seems to work.

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At least in this area, those holes are from carpenter bees. Well, it is their fault. The woodpeckers are just the end result.

Carpenter bees drill holes into facia boards on cedar siding, perfectly circular ones, about 1/2 inch in diameter. Then they make a right turn and drill galleries (nests) parallel to the grain of the wood, just below the surface.

Woodpeckers find the hollow spots in the wood. They apparently can hear the difference between solid wood and those spots, so they tear out the nests and have dinner.

If you get rid of the carpenter bees and fill in the nests, the woodpeckers have no interest in your house. Other bugs can of course get in, but carpenter bees are the ones who like it up high. And unless you eliminate the bees, the woodpeckers will keep returning.

My approach is:

  1. First dust the bees out of the nest. I don't want them returning to find another spot in my house. So I've got a duster that can squirt pesticide dust into the holes.

  2. Once the nest is abandoned, I cut it open. On a ladder, a rotozip tool does a nice job of cutting opening up the galleries. If the bees have been too active, I'll remove and replace that section of facia board completely. But for a small nest, a rotozip tool is adequate.

  3. Next, blow out the nest with an air line, removing any dead bees. A shop vac will also work.

  4. Fill the galleries. Auto-body filler will work here, or a paintable caulk, or wood filler.

  5. Re-paint.

  6. Finally, spray each spring with an insecticide to dissuade the bees from returning.

If the problem is not carpenter bees, but perhaps carpenter ants, they like wet wood. Open the nest. A shop vac is good to remove the ants. Next, fix the reason why water is getting in, and replace/rebuild what was torn out.

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They also can hear the Carpenter Bees chewing on the wood to mine the hole. It has a distinctive sound as the bees jaws tear at the wood fiber. –  Fiasco Labs Jul 12 '13 at 2:56
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Insects like to eat wet wood, so I'd check for moisture in your wall.

If there are voids in your wood (ie plywood), it may echo to the woodpecker's drumming. This echos the same way insect tunnels would.

Skip the owls, something that changes is better. Something that glitters in the wind, like aluminum foil, or a glass bottle on a string. It's harder for animals to spot predators with those distractions.

I'd skip preventative spraying. My preference is to save spraying for when you've identified a problem.

Here's some more great info: Woodpeckers: Damage, Prevention, and Control

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Check out this article and you can build a nest box for way cheaper then a pellet gun.

http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/pwdpubs/media/pwd_bk_w7000_0616.pdf

I am currently dealing with how to fill a 2" hole from a woodpecker and my first thought was a pellet gun too, but i'll probably build the house and hang it on the same post...after i figure out how to fill the stupid hole.

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I once rented a home that had a serious woodpecker problem. Fake owls were useless. Repairing the holes with spray foam insulation and painting it resulting in the foam being torn out within a week. Covering the holes with metal resulted in really loud hammering and dented metal (apparently the males like the extra noise to show off to females). IIRC our landlord tried hanging strips of tinfoil on the side of the house, but it did not help.

The only course of action that might have proved satisfactory in stopping the 5am hammering from waking me and my wife up every day might have been a pellet gun. This, however, would have been illegal (despite the Pileated Woodpecker and Northern Flicker being categorized as "Least Concern" in terms of endangerment).

So I have no (legal) solutions to offer you. Maybe earplugs, or (as we ultimately did) finding another house.

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I've heard wind chimes work... never heard of the fake owl. Interesting technique.

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