April 14, 2024
Finding a possible solution to suburbia's Woodpecker Wars.

DEAR JOAN: I have woodpeckers destroying the fascia board bordering the roof of our home. I have tried plastic owls, reflective tape, reflective hanging devices, a solar ultrasonic deterrent device and even powerful hose nozzles. Nothing has worked.

Our problem with woodpeckers is probably compounded by the fact that they appear to reside in an old oak tree on our property. Also, we are the only remaining house on the block with a shake roof. The house is a 96-year-old Tudor.


Jackie Wall, San Jose

DEAR JACKIE: When I first opened your letter and saw “Jackie” and “woodpeckers,” I thought the email was from my editor, another Jackie who is a shell-shocked veteran of the Woodpecker Wars. Now I’m wondering if woodpeckers have something against people named Jackie…

Woodpeckers tend to be noisier during the lead up to breeding season. The males pound out a loud beat to let other woodpeckers know they have claimed the territory and to let interested females know an eligible bachelor is looking for love.

Woodpeckers enjoy making the noise, so they do. I guess everyone needs a hobby.

When the drumming is pretty much nonstop throughout the year, you either have woodpeckers feeding on insects in your siding and roof, or they are creating holes to store acorns. Insect harvesting will produce small, irregular holes. Acorn storage holes are large enough to squeeze an acorn in.

If the birds are looking for food, you should replace the infested wood with new or with something woodpeckers find less appealing: lighter colors of aluminum siding or vinyl, according to a study by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

If the birds have carved out roosting places, the holes will be large. Those should be patched, provided they are now empty. Covering the area with burlap can discourage future excavation. You also can use bird netting, but it needs to be at least 3 inches above the surface, and held tightly in place to avoid birds getting tangled in it.

The Cornell Lab studied popular deterrents — life-sized plastic owls with paper wings, reflective streamers, plastic eyes strung on fishing line, a sound system that broadcasts woodpecker distress calls followed by hawk calls — and found that they all work at least some of the time, but only the streamers provided consistent results.

DEAR JOAN: Thank you for your column about Save Mount Diablo’s Krane Pond fundraising campaign.

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We’ve had an incredible response. In just three days, we’ve received 67 donations totaling $5,196. That brings our total raised to $309,484 out of the $500,000 project costs. To permanently protect and steward Krane Pond, Save Mount Diablo needs to raise $190,516 by Christmas.

Send donations to Save Mount Diablo, 201 N. Civic Drive, Suite 190, Walnut Creek, CA 94596, or via https://savemountdiablo.org/donate. Be sure to mention that your donation is for Krane Pond.

 — Ted Clement and Seth Adams, Save Mount Diablo

DEAR TED, SETH AND READERS: That’s awesome. Let’s keep it going.

Animal Life runs on Mondays. Contact Joan Morris at [email protected].