How to get rid of woodpeckers: 5 humane ways to help protect your property

These tips on how to get rid of woodpeckers will keep these birds at bay

Great Spotted Woodpecker on tree
(Image credit: Mark L Stanley/DigitalVision/Getty Images)

Learning how to get rid of woodpeckers may seem an odd thing to do, that is, until they start drilling into your home and waking you up at the crack of dawn.

There are over 200 species of woodpecker found around the world. The great spotted, lesser spotted, and green species are native to the UK, while species in the US include the black-backed, red-headed, and downy species, amongst others. 

Appearances differ between species, but most are boldly patterned and all have a chisel-like bill. It is this bill that they use to drill holes into trees in their search for insects to eat. They can also create larger holes to make nests. But it's not just trees that woodpeckers can peck at – less favorably, they can also drill into walls, gutters, eaves, and other areas of your home's exterior. 

Damage caused by woodpeckers not only looks unsightly, but it also makes a building more susceptible to termites, carpenter bees, rodents, and other pests, as well as leaks. Naturally, the noise itself can be a nuisance, too. However, these birds are protected and are important parts of the ecosystem, so you need humane methods to deter them. That's where we can help.

5 ways for how to get rid of woodpeckers

According to Pests.org (opens in new tab), woodpeckers can peck up to 12,000 times per day. That's a lot of potential for damage. Luckily, just as there are ways to get rid of ants, skunks, or other common garden pests, there are a few ways you can deter woodpeckers from your plot.

1. Keep woodpeckers away with loud noises

If you've already read up on how to get rid of squirrels, you'll know that some noises can scare unwelcome intruders away, and this goes for woodpeckers, too. 

If you spot a woodpecker attacking your house, the simple approach is to go outside and clap loudly or bang a pan with a wooden spoon. This will usually be enough to scare it off.

Other, more high-tech methods include devices that have pre-recorded woodpecker distress and predator calls. You can find the Bird-X BirdXPeller® on Amazon (opens in new tab), for instance. 

For a more relaxing approach that would enhance a sensory garden, try hanging wind chimes near the areas where woodpeckers are proving to be a pain.

using pan and spoon to make noise to scare away pests

Simple tricks can scare woodpeckers away

(Image credit: Natasa Ivancev/Alamy Stock Photo)

2. Use objects to scare them off

Colorful pinwheels or CDs hanging on string are a classic approach for keeping birds away. But there are also similar products you can buy online, including bird scare tape (otherwise known as flash tape), available on Amazon (opens in new tab), which flutters in the wind creating an audio and visual deterrent.

Other visual deterrents include predator decoys, such as faux owls or coyotes. You can even find solar-powered ones which move, for a more realistic effect.

hanging CDs to keep birds away from garden

Put old CDs to good use

(Image credit: ableimages/Alamy Stock Photo)

3. Create a distraction

A different approach is to lead your woodpeckers away from your house by positioning a dedicated woodpecker feeder elsewhere in your garden. Fill it with sunflower seeds, suet, and peanuts.

In the meantime, check the exterior of your home for smaller pests, such as ants or termites, which may have been attracting the woodpeckers in the first place. If you need to know how to get rid of termites, our guide has lots of useful advice.

woodpecker on bird feeder

Encourage woodpeckers to go elsewhere in your garden

(Image credit: Richard Becker/Alamy Stock Photo)

4. Fix up your plot

As well as being attracted to wood that's infested with insects, woodpeckers are also drawn to rotting or damaged timber.

So, if the exterior of your home is looking a little worse for wear, take steps to fix it up. Call in a pro to do any timber replacements, or if you're handy with some DIY skills, take on the project yourself.

You can use caulk to fill in holes. Once the caulk has dried, try hanging bird netting – the type made for protecting buildings rather than crops – in front of the area as an extra deterrent.

According to Pests.org, 'woodpeckers have been shown to prefer natural, unpainted wood to wood that has been finished.' So it might be a good idea to give your home a new look with a lick of exterior wood paint, too.

woodpecker on house

Woodpeckers are mostly drawn to wood that's rotten or infested with insects

(Image credit: Tomas_Handfield/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

5. Call in a pro to tackle your woodpecker problem

When learning how to get rid of woodpeckers, it's worth noting that 'a multifaceted approach is best,' as says Pests.org. 'You'll likely find that it's a better solution than relying on only one tactic.'

However, if a combination of the above approaches simply isn't doing the job, it may be time to call in a registered professional, particularly if it seems your resident woodpeckers have become territorial. Just ensure whoever you hire complies with environmental laws.

great spotted woodpecker on tree

A professional can help solve your woodpecker problem if DIY methods aren't working

(Image credit: Mark L Stanley/DigitalVision/Getty Images)

How do you know if you have woodpeckers in your garden?

As there are so many different types of woodpecker, it's worth checking which species are native to your region and their physical characteristics to help you identify if you have one visiting your garden. 

But of course, the telltale signs are their pecking behavior, accompanied by the noise.

If you've spotted damage to your home, but no birds, the culprit could be carpenter bees. The holes they make are smaller and deeper than those made by woodpeckers, and the pests make a buzzing sound as they make them, rather than woodpeckers' tapping noise. Termites could also be a culprit – the holes they make are generally in irregular patterns and covered in mud.

Other property pests that leave an obvious trace are moles, with their unmissable molehills that crop up on lawns overnight. Our guide on how to get rid of moles will help you prevent the problem.

woodpecker on tree

There are many different types of woodpecker

(Image credit: Rosanne Tackaberry/Alamy Stock Photo)

Do woodpeckers damage trees?

Although woodpeckers will drill holes into trees, this in itself isn't usually enough to harm them. The holes do, however, make the tree more susceptible to disease.

If you are concerned about the ones in your garden, then wrapping the trunks with burlap cloth can help, as can hanging reflective objects such as flash tape from branches.

Are woodpeckers dangerous to humans?

No, woodpeckers may be annoying at times, but they're not harmful to humans. Some pests, such as wasps, can be though – which is why it's worth reading up on how to get rid of wasps.

Holly Crossley
Senior Content Editor

The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion.