Early mornings are great for hearing birds chirping, but not when you haven’t slept through the night because of insistent pecking.
Pecking alone is a noise that may or may not be tolerable and eventually, it’s just noise.
However, if that bird is a woodpecker, it can bring cosmetic damage to your house. Sadly, they like to target your gutters.
Why is a woodpecker pecking on my gutters? They may be trying to attract mates, feeding on insects, building a nest, or storing food.
Woodpeckers have reasons why they peck on your gutters; it isn’t just their hobby.
Sometimes, woodpeckers don’t simply peck on your gutters; they drum on them.
If you hear a tapping that sounds like a pattern, that’s woodpecker drumming. This drumming behavior can mean one of two things; a mating call or a territorial tactic.
Instead of beautiful chirps, woodpeckers rely on drumming to attract a mate. They peck their beaks against materials that produce loud sounds to call attention to themselves.
At the same time, woodpeckers are communicating to nearby woodpeckers that they’ve claimed that territory.
If woodpeckers are within residential areas, they typically choose street signs, gutters, or trash cans for drumming. Unfortunately, they chose your gutter as their target.
What’s interesting about woodpeckers’ drumming is that it isn’t exclusive to male woodpeckers. Female woodpeckers also tend to drum when trying to attract a partner.
You may also notice that this drumming happens more often during spring or as early as February. This season can be extra troublesome because it’s the mating season of woodpeckers.
If woodpeckers are pecking on your gutters out of mating season, it could be because of insects in your gutter.
When the gutter is clogged, rainwater overflows. This water saturates the sidings and softens the wood, which eventually leads to rotting.
Gutter sidings made of plywood are ideal for insects like carpenter ants, carpenter bees, termites, or wood-boring beetles. They can easily puncture a hole through the wood and multiply inside.
Woodpeckers feeding on insects in your gutter can be beneficial for you, though. They’re able to minimize the damage without any type of intervention.
However, continuous pecking can still pose a different kind of damage to your gutter. So, it’s better to call your local exterminator to solve the infestation and prevent woodpeckers from returning.
When woodpeckers forage on insects, you may also notice that they’re not pecking as hard. Unlike their consistent and loud drumming, this type of pecking is less forceful and often sporadic.
Woodpeckers in suburban areas can find it difficult to look for proper nesting trees. So, they end up building their nests in soft wood, which in this case is your gutter.
Typically, woodpeckers choose pine, cedar, or stucco to build their nest. Once they’ve pecked through the exterior wood, there’s a softer and much cozier space inside.
These holes can range from one to two inches in diameter. Sometimes, a woodpecker can bore multiple holes in search of the perfect spot.
As a result, roosting holes are the most serious woodpecker damage you can have. You may also see these holes more often at the start of the breeding season, which is around mid-spring.
If you live in the West, chances are you see a lot of Acorn Woodpeckers. These woodpeckers love storing acorns in houses.
Acorn Woodpeckers drill closely spaced acorn-sized holes and place an acorn in each one. Eventually, these peckers will fill the wooden sides of your gutter with unsightly cavities.
Woodpeckers can keep coming back to your gutter if you don’t intervene. Here are some easy ways to deter woodpeckers from the gutters.
Cavity-type nest boxes near the damaged area encourage woodpeckers to nest in the boxes instead. These boxes should be big enough for the woodpeckers that frequent your gutter.
Cavity-type boxes are great because you’re not leaving these woodpeckers homeless; you’re simply rehoming them. Plus, they’ll keep other woodpeckers away once inside the nest by defending their new territory.
However, this method only works for nesting or roosting woodpeckers. So, if woodpeckers in your area are foraging or drumming, you may need to try another solution.
Birds, including woodpeckers, are scared of reflective materials. So, attaching flash tape or mylar balloons to damaged areas is a cheap way of deterring woodpeckers.
The wind moves the flash tape or the balloon, creating a visual disturbance for the woodpeckers.
If you want the mylar balloons to work better, you can stick large eye stickers to mimic woodpeckers’ predators.
Birds are easily startled. They start to scurry away with a simple clap or a loud thud.
Similarly, if you create distractive noises for woodpeckers, you can expect them to leave your gutters alone. However, this isn’t a long-term solution because woodpeckers learn the noise pattern over time.
You can buy electronic deterrents that produce predatorial sounds to improve this method. Some devices also use sounds with high frequencies that aren’t audible to human ears but are detectable to birds.
For pecking problems caused by foraging, a suet feeder may work well as a redirection tactic. They can leave your infested gutter alone by providing them with an alternative food source.
Suet feeders are perfect for woodpeckers because they can eat from them as if they’re eating from a tree.
Of course, suet feeders need suet cakes. One thing to keep in mind when buying suet cakes is to make sure that they’re suitable for woodpeckers.
Another useful redirecting method is an animal decoy, like plastic owls. You can buy these from home centers, gardening stores, or online.
Animal decoys make great deterrents because woodpeckers will want to stay away from their predators. However, you must move the decoy every few days to make it more realistic.
So, you’ve asked yourself: why is a woodpecker pecking on my gutters?
Depending on the season, they could either be calling for a mate or creating a nesting hole. However, if their persistent pecking occurs outside of mating and breeding season, they could simply be foraging or storing food in your gutters.
Fortunately, you can use simple solutions like distractive noises, reflective materials, and redirecting tactics to deter woodpeckers.
The next time you encounter a pecking woodpecker, you can try these solutions yourself!
I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems and over 10 years of experience working in IT. As a homeowner, I love working on projects around the house, and as a father, I love investigating various ways to keep my family safe (whether or not this involves tech). I’ve also played guitar for almost 20 years and love writing music, although it’s hard to find the time these days.