Woodpecker damage to homes and buildings is a widespread and locally severe problem in vertebrate pest control. Woodpeckers may cause an average of $300 (United States currency) in damage to affected houses, resulting in millions of dollars of property damage annually in the United States. However, there is no known, practical, consistently effective technique to prevent woodpecker damage. We tested the effectiveness of 6 woodpecker control techniques available commercially, used anecdotally by homeowners, and recommended by wildlife specialists in different Cooperative Extension publications. These deterrents included Prowler Owls, Irri-TapeTM, the Bird Pro Sound System, Scare-Eyes (all manufactured by Bird-X, Inc., Chicago, IL), suet feeders, and roost boxes. We conducted our study in late spring and autumn during August 2003 through December 2004 in the Town of Ithaca, Tompkins County, New York, USA. We evaluated 16 homes with active woodpecker damage, and visited each house about 3 times per week to determine a rate of new woodpecker holes per day. We then placed a deterrent at the house and monitored the rate of new holes per day. Although none of the deterrents that we tested was completely successful in keeping woodpeckers from creating new holes in house siding, homes where Irri-Tape was installed exhibited the greatest reduction in woodpecker damage. Avoiding earth-tone stain and paint colors may be the best long-term solutions for preventing woodpecker damage in wooded areas. Homeowners should avoid using natural-colored stains, as brightly painted houses (white, light blue, pastels) were less likely to attract woodpeckers.
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Vol. 71 • No. 6