Woodpeckers are an interesting, valuable part of the environment, but occasionally they do considerable damage to wooden houses and trees.
Woodpeckers usually peck on wooden siding because it contains insects. Woodboring insect larvae, originally in the tree, may still be in the siding, and certain adult insects overwinter in the siding. Thus, to prevent woodpecker damage, the insects must be destroyed by the application of methoxychlor.
Woodpeckers also peck on house siding to drum. Drumming in the spring is the woodpecker's way of announcing its territory. Drumming can sometimes be stopped by repeatedly frightening the bird whenever it begins drumming. Sudden loud noises, water from the garden hose, or a flashing mirror may suffice. Other visual repellents, such as owl silhouettes or decoys, twirlers and aluminum pie pans may or may not help. Sheet metal fastened over the drumming spot may also stop drumming. On rare occasions, it may be necessary to shoot or trap the woodpecker. Air rifles or .22 caliber rat shot are usually the most practical weapons. Wooden-base rat snap traps may catch and kill the woodpecker.
The yellow-bellied sapsucker is the only member of the woodpecker family that regularly injures healthy trees. Sapsuckers punch rows of 1/4 inch holes through the bark to obtain sap. The same tree is often revisited. Bleeding wounds disfigure the tree and become access sites for disease and insects.
Sapsuckers can be repelled from ornamental trees by spraying or smearing the injured areas with sticky repellents. In plantations or orchards, heavily damaged trees should be left alone, if possible. Sapsuckers will concentrate on these trees. Killing is usually inefficient.
If necessary, permits form the Law Enforcement Division, Michigan DNR, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, can be obtained to shoot or trap the woodpecker.