Larry CollinsWILD ABOUT BIRDSFree Press Birding Columnist

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March 14, 2013
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COLLINS: Tap-tap-tap: Welcome back, woodpeckers

A: Woodpeckers are fun to watch and listen to as they work their way up and down a tree looking for insects. They can also be annoying and destructive if they have found your house to drum against. Hopefully, the following information will help you eliminate this latter behavior so you can enjoy them.This is the season when woodpeckers often tap on houses. They do it for one of three reasons - to drum on a loud, resonating surface to attract a mate and proclaim their territory; to search for and excavate insects to eat; or they are trying to excavate a nest cavity.The key to deterring any of these activities is to be as tenacious as the woodpecker. Usually hanging a barrier or implementing scare devices is the most effective.To exclude woodpeckers from accessing a particular spot, you can cover the site with nylon netting or hardware cloth. Metallic or wood surfaces used for drumming may be covered with cloth or foam to dampen the resonance.Install suet feeders to offer readily accessible food sources to help prevent them from foraging on wood siding. Some woodpeckers will also eat black oil sunflower seeds, peanuts and peanut butter.Place a woodpecker nest box filled with wood shavings or sawdust over the affected area if the bird is interested in nesting or roosting. This may encourage the bird to use the box and deter them from creating a hole in another location.Scaring woodpeckers from your house relies upon the bird's response to danger or unpleasant experiences. Hang Mylar strips (like holographic tape) over the pecking locations. Models or silhouettes of snakes, owls or hawks may be the least effective unless they are hung to move in the breeze and are moved to another location every day or two. Electronic devices, while somewhat expensive, are also available to deter Flickers. Check and other internet sites for these possible solutions.Remember, to deter destructive behavior and enjoy woodpeckers, you have to be as tenacious as they are. The one who is the most persistent will be the winner!Local bird expert Larry Collins owns Wild Birds Unlimited, 2454 Hwy. 6&50, which caters to folks who want the best backyard birdfeeding experience possible. Email your birdfeeding and birding questions to and he'll answer them in his bi-weekly Q&A column in the Free Press.

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The Post Independent Updated Mar 14, 2013 01:16PM Published Mar 14, 2013 01:14PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.