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National Wildlife Control Training Program vol. 1.

Woodpecker. Photo by NebraskaLand MagazineWoodpecker Control

Photo Credits: NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Photo

Scientific Name

Red-headed Woodpecker Melanerpes erythrocephalus

Red-naped Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Acorn Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens

Hairy Woodpecker Sapsucker damage. Photo by Dave Pehling.

& others


  • Sapsuckers are species of woodpeckers that make a series of holes in horizontal lines on tree trunks. (See photo at right, courtesy of Dave Pehling)


  • Drumming causes noise nuisance and holes on home exteriors, especially cedar and natural wood siding.

  • Occasionally flickers and other woodpeckers eat bright-colored berries and fruits leaving stains on sidewalks and driveways through their droppings.

  • Tree Damage: Healthy trees are seldom damaged. Woodpeckers follow insects that follow disease into dead and dying wood.

  • Lawn Damage: Slight aesthetic problem...woodpeckers create dime-sized holes while feeding on mostly harmful insects.

  • Research suggests that woodpeckers are more attracted to dark colored surfaces.

Surfaces known to be attacked by woodpeckers

    • Aluminum flashing: particularly if there is a void behind it.
    • Cedar siding
    • Chimney Caps
    • Fir siding (white fir)
    • Pine Siding
    • Redwood siding
    • Roof vents
    • Space Shuttle
    • Stucco
    • Synthetic Stucco Polymer Coatings (eg; Dryvitt and Stucco-Flex)tile roof
    • Vinyl siding
    • If you know of another please drop us an e-mail

Flicker on siding. Photo by Critter Controlwoodpecker pecking at wood siding
Description: shows flicker pecking at wood siding
Photo Credits: Critter Control, Inc.





Control Methods

Habitat Modification

  • Netting: Suspend netting 3-4 inches from the wall during the season when woodpeckers are likely to attack your home. Remove netting when the season passes. Contrary to popular opinon, properly chosen netting can be quite difficult to see from a distance.

  • Metal barriers (i.e. aluminum flashing) on sensitive surfaces

Frightening Devices

  • Mylar tape used to frighten birds. Photo by Dallas Virchow.Repellents, such as silhouettes, effigies, mirrors, mylar tape can be effective. However, it should be known that woodpeckers can stop damaging a structure at any time for unknown reasons.

  • Recent research has suggested that mylar tape works the best among visual repellents. Hang 3 foot strips along the affected area you wish to protect. (Photo at right by Dallas Virchow)



Methyl anthranilate is registered for use on structures to prevent birds from roosting on structures. ICWDM is not aware of research on the effectiveness of this product to stop woodpeckers from pecking on surfaces. We welcome feedback. 



  • Shooting is very effective, provided safety and legal concerns are addressed. Understand that many communities consider pellet rifles to be firearms. Follow all firearm regulations in your area.  Federal permit is required also.


  • None registered


  • Woodpeckers are not known to be a major threat to human, health and safety.

University Publications

Controlling Woodpeckers--Purdue Univ. PDF

Managing Woodpeckers--Iowa State University PDF

Woodpecker Control--University of Kentucky

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