Deterrents should be your first priority if your house has been "marked" by a woodpecker. This will help you in identifying the right ones.
Woodpeckers are interesting. They peck away at a distant tree, producing a soft, rhythmic sound; like natural music. But, they can become a real nuisance at times. Imagine waking up from sleep in the morning by loud drumming noise. Start using good deterrents, before they make a halt on your house tree.
These birds are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. So, the methods used to control them should not harm them. Otherwise you will end up paying a hefty fine, that will burn a hole in your pocket bigger, than any holes the bird may have made on your house.
Woodpeckers peck the wood on your roofs, and sides of the house in search of insects.
Drumming is another activity, characterized by repetitive, machine gun-like rat-a-tats, and is done during the mating season, to announce their ownership over a particular area. The bird, obviously has no idea about the kind of nuisance it inadvertently becomes.
Visual deterrents are a form of scare tactic. These include - hanging aluminum foil strips, strings of reflective tapes, or balloons with owl-eyes painted on them, strings of noisy tin can lids, pulsating water sprinklers, or wind chimes. Some of these can be made at home. Hand-held windmill is an example of homemade woodpecker deterrent.
Make sure you hang only shiny or noisy things, which can distract the birds when wind blows. Silhouettes of predatory birds like falcons, hawks, or owls can be used, but since they are stationary, they may not deter the woodpeckers for too long.
There are some mechanical devices which produce a noise as soon as they detect motion in the vicinity. These can be very effective, as they play out the sounds similar to those of certain predatory birds, at a frequency audible to woodpeckers. But they are an expensive option.
Suet feeders are the most widely used to distract woodpeckers from pecking the wood of your tree. Suet is the hard, fatty tissue in cows and sheep, which surrounds their kidney and liver.
It is easily available at any butcher's shop. Placing a suet feeder close to the areas frequented by the bird, will be an ideal distraction.
In some days' time, the bird will get accustomed to feeding on it. Gradually, move the suet feeder away from the house, so that the birds stop coming to your homes as uninvited guests.
The most effective deterrent is creating a barrier between the wood and the woodpecker, by covering the wood with hardware cloth, sheet metal, nylon bird netting, or plastic netting.
At least 3" space should be left between the netting and the affected wood, so that the bird cannot access the wood through the netting. Hardware cloth is most popular as it can be painted to match the exterior of your house.
Spraying certain chemicals like methyl anthranilate on land is effective, as it produces an unpleasant smell that repels the birds. Natural, non-toxic sprays can be sprayed on those sides of your home. The nasty odor of these sprays will put-off the bird.
Woodpecker deterrent hole filler is a natural deterrent. It is a resin-repair system which is used to repair wood structures damaged by woodpeckers. When he bird pecks any area which has been repaired by this hole-filler, it meets with an awful smell and taste, which makes it go away sooner.
» Preventive Tactics
If the wood in your house and roofs are infested with insects, ants, Carpenter bees, Leafcutter bees, Bagworm larvae, and such other pests, it will naturally attract more woodpeckers. Pest control will act as a deterrent.
Painting the outer side of your home with pest-repellents like polyurethane or oil-based paints, wood putty and the like, is a prerequisite for anyone building a home in a woodpecker infested area.
Woodpeckers are persistent and are not easily put-off. Just one of these deterrents will not give desired results.
A combination of all of these is generally preferred. They have to be used even after the birds have moved away, to prevent their return. So incorporate these methods into your homes, and see how the birds make a gracious exit.