Why do woodpeckers peck holes in my roof?

That annoying peck-peck-peck, called “drumming”, on your roof or siding means a woodpecker has taken a liking to your house. Woodpeckers do it for three reasons: 

  1. To mark their territory. A drumming woodpecker is warning other birds that your home is his. The birds also drum to attract mates. It’s most common during the spring early in the morning and late in the afternoon.
  2. To carve out a home for themselves. They nest in cavities that they create with their beaks. They prefer to create those cavities in dead or dying trees, but if there aren’t any around, they’ll use your home as a substitute.
  3. To find bugs. Well-seasoned wood isn’t usually infested with insects, so woodpeckers drill into new houses, for about the first two years after a home is built, in search of dinner. It’s illegal to kill a woodpecker without a federal permit, and you can’t get a permit until you try every non-lethal scare tactic in the book. Here are some ways to try to scare the noisy birds away: 
  • Mount small magnifying mirrors, like the ones you use in the bathroom to apply makeup, flat on the house, magnifying side up, where you notice the damage.
  • Install mobiles that look like hawks. The size: around 22 inches from wing to wing and 11 inches long. You can make them yourself from cardboard, plywood or Styrofoam. Paint them dark and hang them with fishline from the eave near the damage.
  • Attach lightweight objects that will blow in the wind to plastic strips along the side of the house that the woodpecker likes. Objects that might work: aluminum pie tins or pinwheels.
  • Fly balloons painted with crazy eyes around your house. Bird control companies sell them.
  • Mix up a solution of cayanne pepper and water into a paste consistency and brush it onto the surface where the birds are active. When they get a beak full of pepper, they will find another home.