Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It's Us Against Them-- the Woodpeckers, That Is

We live in a house with cedar siding. It’s pretty, we like it, but it’s a lot of work to take care of. Actually, we have come to believe that we’re just tending it for the neighborhood woodpeckers.

Every year for as long as I can remember (granted, that’s not saying a whole lot any more) the Center of the Universe (CoTU) has had to cut a hole in some exterior wall, either from the inside or the outside, depending upon the scene of the crime, remove a bird’s nest, patch the hole, sand, paint, and repeat. Do I really need to say that this gets old?

One year it was in our bedroom, and the birds had pecked their way into the wall behind our bed. They were apparently doing most of the heavy labor work while we were at work. But early one morning it became apparent that there were birds subdividing and possibly going condo in the wall just east of our pillows. This is, I must say, an extremely creepy realization.

The next Saturday morning, CoTU pulled the bed away from the wall, put down a dropcloth, and began cutting into the drywall. (This could not be attacked from the outside, because it was the second story of a two-story house with a walk-out basement, and our ladders don’t come close to getting us there.) Before long, CoTU had removed the nest, patched the cedar, replaced the insulation, and was ready to patch the drywall. Patch, putty, sand, paint. Let dry. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Spend two days getting the grit from all that sanding out of the bedding, the drapes and the carpeting. But the birds were gone. We had a quiet wall once more. How did we ever take that for granted?

Another year it was in the wall of the family room, and CoTU was able to do the patching from the outside, so the interior mess didn’t exist. Still, it was a lot of work for him. My job was to stay out of the way. No problemo.

Now, we’re not entirely stupid. We realize that an ounce of prevention is worth a 2x4 of cure, so we researched any possible means of deterring the little devils. I mean, they’re cute, but they’re so destructive!

Over the years, we have tried multiple strategies for ridding us of the woodpecker problem. We read that a fake plastic owl mounted on the side of your house will scare the woodpeckers away. It worked like a charm. For about a year. Eventually the woodpeckers wised up and realized that the stupid thing was no threat. I imagine they found this out by sending some dorky and expendable member of the family to fly really, really close to the dummy owl, and when the plastic failed to swipe at the bird, they knew they were safe. They were probably all watching from the woods behind our house, and set up a big “Whoop, whoop” when the Arnold Stang of woodpeckers made it safely back to the tree.

They started pecking away at the siding again. Undaunted, --well, okay, slightly daunted—we got yet another plastic owl and CoTU mounted it on a post, Lord of the Flies-style, and affixed the post to our deck. It was a little creepy, but I couldn’t blame the hub for wanting to put an end to the problem. Again, we got about a year out of this solution before Woody Woodpecker and the Peckerheads (can I say that in a G-rated blog?) resumed their assaults.

At this point I drew the line at any more owls. “One more, and we’re outnumbered,” I observed. “Besides, we’re starting to look like Omar’s House of Owls.”

Other solutions we’ve read about on the web include wind socks and noise-maker devices, but these are designed to keep ALL birds away, and we don’t want that. We enjoy watching the birds, sometimes taking their pictures, getting their autographs… So we battle the woodpeckers, and only the woodpeckers.

Now we’ve noticed (on our walks) that a few of our neighbors have fake woodpeckers attached to the outsides of their houses. The theory is that a woodpecker will not encroach on another bird’s turf. Wish they could show us the same courtesy… Stay tuned…


  1. what if you move the owls you have to differnt perches every so often?

  2. Hey thanks for stopping by! Your blog is really fun - I enjoyed your valentine's day post. Too funny. Good luck with those birds!


  3. This is an interesting problem. I have to say that I've never met someone with a woodpecker problem. I'm sorry that I'm laughing at your expense. Best of luck getting rid of them.

  4. We rented a cabin in the mountains once and had a woodpecker. It started out cute like oh, neat, a woodpecker and ended with a lot of *^(!%(*&^(!B MOTHER *^T*!%*%! woodpecker. Who knew woodpeckers had such energy and really felt they had to earn their names.

  5. I had that problem with geese when I moved into my house. I did the same as you, googling solutions. There weren't very many. We finally built a fence that kept them out but they still hang out down by our pond, pooping all over our deck. It sucks! But something that flies would be even worse. Did you see "Failure to Launch" where Zooey Deschanel's character bought a bee-bee gun to shoot the birds that were chirping and keeping her up all the time?

  6. Hi Leah! Over here we get squirrels. Devious little bastards, they have parties in the attic. Good luck with the 'peckers!

  7. I've heard metal pie plates over where they tend to make their holes helps. Not very attractive for the house though.