Woodpeckers and Log Homes - We've been getting a lot of calls recently from log home owners having woodpecker problems. We don't know if it's mere coincidence they are all calling about it now or if there is something in their biological cycle making them more active this year. Either way, woodpeckers are not an issue unique to log homes. We know of one painted wood-sided home where an over-ambitious woodpecker managed to make a hole all the way through the interior drywall. Yikes. What a nosy and noisy fella. We love watching birds - especially the pileated woodpeckers. But it can be frustrating when they come and start perforating your home.
So what is one to do when Woody comes whacking on your wall and puts a hole in your log? Unfortunately, there aren't any miracle solutions of which I'm aware, but there are a few things you can try. First, let's look at why woodpeckers bang their heads against wood in the first place. Without asking them directly, one can assume a woodpecker is soliciting your home for one of three reasons: looking for food, looking for shelter, or sending out social cues.
Feeding: A common motivation for woodpeckers pecking on trees is to reach insects, larvae, and other food. If woodpeckers are pecking at your home, it may be a sign that they see it as an open buffet. Maybe there is an issue with insects in the wood. In that case, treatment with a borate preservative like ArmorGuard, PeneTreat (see Tim-bor), or ShellGuard RTU, or a contact insecticide like Bug Juice or Viper may be the way to go.
Nesting: Woodpeckers will also go to work on an old tree to excavate a nesting cavity. This is when the most damage is done, in an effort to hollow out a home, in which case they could destroy yours in the process. Fortunately, this typically doesn't seem to be the motivation for the birds when they are pounding on someone's house - at least, not by our experience.
Mating and/or Territorial: Sometimes woodpeckers are just making noise to let others know they're around. They drum on trees, homes, and even telephone poles to send a message - either an invitation or a warning.
Remedies: We are still searching for that miracle cure for woodpeckers to keep them off one's house - until then there are a few things that can be tried. As mentioned earlier, if the woodpeckers are going after food, then eradication of wood-boring insects from the home might help deter the birds. Also hanging suet and giving them a different food source could help. If the woodpeckers aren't tapping your home for food, then they might be pounding for mating or territorial reasons. This can make it difficult to deter them. There are a number of things that have been tried:
Repelling them with chemical smells such as 'moth balls.'
Scaring them visually with owl statues, spinning/flashing objects like foil, pie plates, pinwheels and other objects; or scaring them with sound such as banging pots or clapping hands when they are seen. Unfortunately, visual objects to scare them can have aesthetic drawbacks on your home, and scaring with sound requires you to catch them in the act to shoo them off.
Blocking them with bird netting under the eaves or wire mesh directly on the surface is another option to keep them off the home. Unfortunately, this can also have aesthetic drawbacks.
We are still searching for that miracle cure that will let you enjoy the birds without having them destroy your home. The good news is... the damage is fairly easy to repair.
Repairing the Damage: Whether a solution is found to keep the woodpeckers off your home or not, if they were there it's likely there may be a bit of damage to repair. Fortunately, this is the easy part. Wood replacement putty epoxies like WoodEpox or E-Wood can be mixed and packed into the holes for a quick repair. Adding some pigment to the two-part epoxies while they are still malleable can help to blend to the surrounding wood so that the patch is undetectable from a distance. In the case of painted wood homes, the putty can be painted over for a completely seamless patch. See details in the Log Home Maintenance Guide.
If you have any other questions about woodpeckers or other repairs to make to your home, give us a call at 1-800-359-6614 or email us. Or if by chance you have found that miracle cure to repel woodpeckers from your logs, please let us know so we can help other homeowners!