Woodpeckers are destroying a roof border on a San Jose home. What’s the solution?

DR. JOAN: Woodpeckers are destroying the fascia board that borders our roof. Plastic owls, reflective tape, reflective hanging devices, a solar ultrasonic deterrent device, and even powerful hose nozzles have all been tried. Nothing has worked so far.

Our woodpecker problem is likely exacerbated by the fact that they appear to live in an old oak tree on our property. In addition, we are the only house on the block with a shake roof. The Tudor house is 96 years old.


— San Jose resident Jackie Wall

TO JACKIE: When I first opened your letter and saw the words “Jackie” and “woodpeckers,” I assumed it was from my editor, another Jackie who is a war-weary veteran of the Woodpecker Wars. Now I’m wondering if woodpeckers dislike people named Jackie…

During the breeding season, woodpeckers become more vocal. The males pound out a loud beat to alert other woodpeckers to the fact that they have claimed the territory and to alert interested females that an eligible bachelor is looking for love.

Woodpeckers like to make noise, so they do. Everyone, I suppose, requires a hobby.

When the drumming is almost continuous throughout the year, it means that woodpeckers are either feeding on insects in your siding and roof, or they are digging holes to store acorns. Harvesting insects will result in small, irregular holes. Acorn storage holes are large enough to accommodate an acorn.

According to a Cornell Lab of Ornithology study, 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.

The holes will be large if the birds have carved out roosting areas. Those should be patched if they are no longer empty. Burlap can be used to discourage future excavation. You can also use bird netting, but it must be at least 3 inches above the surface and tightly secured to prevent birds from becoming entangled in it.

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

We’ve gotten a fantastic response. We’ve received 67 donations totaling $5,196 in just three days. This brings our total raised from the $500,000 project costs to $309,484. Save Mount Diablo must raise $190,516 by Christmas to permanently protect and steward Krane Pond.

Donations can be mailed to Save Mount Diablo at 201 N. Civic Drive, Suite 190, Walnut Creek, CA 94596, or made online at https://savemountdiablo.org/donate. Please specify that your donation is for Krane Pond.Save Mount Diablo, Ted Clement and Seth Adams

DEAR TED, SETH, AND OTHER READERS: That’s fantastic. Let us keep going.

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