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Have you ever had a clip from a childhood cartoon stuck in your head? The kind where you can almost make out the context of why this odd little clip of some kind of person (animal?) shouting “It’s WAAAARRRR!” repeatedly is forever burned into your long-term memory, but then you go looking for it on the internet, and realize you have too little information to locate the clip to include in your blog post?

I digress. But anyway, as the title implies: it’s freaking war, folks. Meet the latest little guy in a series of assholes to decide that my house is their new BFF and food source:

What’s happening here: apparently the fixes I paid for last year on my chimney didn’t get fixed enough… or perhaps some was fixed, but other parts were not, leaving the stuff that wasn’t to still end up with wood rot over the winter. I’m guessing on all of this, because this area is literally over my head and I have to make my best educated guess before I devise a plan of attack.

Well, not actual attack. Because that would be illegal.

Woodpeckers are a federally protected species as a migratory bird (and endangered, though you wouldn’t guess such a thing when they’re waking you up). Last I checked though, chucking a pine cone in their vicinity to get them off my house isn’t lethal (especially since the wind resistance of a pine cone makes them difficult to target accurately), so I’m good there.

Annoyed — because they come back after a little while to start chowing down again — but good.

The most annoying part? The chimney area runs directly behind the wall in my primary bedroom… the wall that I put the bed and my headboard against. Meaning that a series of irritated, persistent tap-tap-tapping is how I have been waking up for the last week. Which then makes Charlie bolt upright from her dog bed, and then sometimes start barking thinking it’s the front door, and a general mix of chaos and rage ensues.

It would be funny if I weren’t so tired.

I think it’s a wood rot/insect situation mainly because of the areas they’re going after. It doesn’t seem like a territory thing, and there are plenty of pine trees around for shelter (which are other possible reasons why woodpeckers & nuthatches make all that noise; sometimes, it’s not for food, but I think it is in my case). Every year, I have issues with carpenter bees because the house has wood siding, and you also remember that freaking squirrel, so this is just the latest in a long, long list of dealing with pests and my home.

This is basically the price one pays for having a cedar home. It’s charming, but pests are abundant, and winter isn’t always kind… especially if the previous fix wasn’t done correctly or completely. If I could afford to replace the siding entirely, I would, but I don’t think that’s in the cards anytime soon. So, I keep fixing smaller stuff.

As you can probably guess, this means that this spring, I’m going to embark on a new series of how to deal with woodpeckers*. Some folks on my personal Facebook have already advised I try aluminum tape, Mylar balloons stapled to the house (house bling! score! not tacky at all!), a sticky goo that’s said to make it really gross for them to attach themselves to (which also sounds gross for me to clean up after), give them suet in a different spot in the back yard to keep them from the house, and of course, figuring out if it really is a bug thing that I have to solve first, and then hope the WP’s go away after the area is treated.

It’s going to be an interesting learning experience to see what works and what doesn’t, but I think I can handle it. I’ve got my war paint ready.

* Correction: as many of you guys have pointed out, I can’t identify birds worth a damn! This particular bird I photographed appears to be a nuthatch, not a woodpecker…

which still makes it a GRADE A BUTTHEAD for waking me up, but just so we’re clear on which kind of BUTTHEAD.

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  1. We have assholes too. A couple of years ago they made a perfectly round hole in our siding and laid their asshole eggs. They come back to the exact same place every year to peck and try to build s home. The area is really high, but below a bedroom window. This year I got a life size owl and put it in the window. The assholes have been less active, although every once in a while I’ll hear one, drop what I’m doing and run in there to shake the owl and bang it on the glass. That actually helps keep them away for a while. I’m hoping they think my owl will eat their babies and they’ll find another house to torment.

  2. HA HA HA!!!!!!! I thought for SURE this post would be about the squirrel again! LOL!!! Sorry to hear you have a pesky woodpecker instead. Especially one that interferes with sleep AND gets Charlie riled up!

    1. Actually, there IS going to be a new post about the squirrel… it’s no longer trying to get into my attic, but it’s gnawing at one of my windows just to make me stabby. On a window that I’ve ALREADY repaired damage on before… arg. Guess I’ve got to replace it with vinyl this time!

      1. Oh no! Sorry to hear. Your house is like the gingerbread house for all the animals in your neighborhood!

  3. I have this EXACT same problem! I can’t wait for you to figure out a solution for me. ????

  4. Hi Sarah! That sure doesn’t look like a woodpecker to me. It looks like a Nuthatch or possibly a Wren, but can’t see it well enough for sure.. Wren’s are notorious for finding a nice hole to go in an make a nest. They won’t damage siding, just use a convenient opening. I think once you replace that warped board, they will be looking elsewhere!


  5. Just as a heads up, the bird in your picture is a White-breasted Nuthatch, not a woodpecker. They do eat insects and seeds. We have them at my house, but thankfully not on/in my house. They have a very cute squeaker kind of voice. And also have an unusual way of moving around on a tree, mainly going upside-down! I’m sorry that they’re causing you such trouble and good luck in resolving it!

  6. I had one on my wood shed. Had carpenter bees. It was pecking out the larvae of the bees. Didn’t know which was worse – the birds pulling apart my shed or the bee larvae eating it…

    I let the birds have at it. They left after the larvae were gone and the bees didn’t come back.

  7. It’s entirely possible by removing trees that they started to focus on your house. I have over 20 trees that need to come down (to protect body, house, vehicles – they’re freaking widow makers!), but that one or 2 that I watch the woodpeckers tackle are going to stay!

  8. I’m in new york and I don’t know what birds you may get down in Georgia, but from the picture, that looks like it might be a nuthatch. Good luck getting the vermin from choosing your house over the outside, this spring I need to work on finding where the mice are getting in.

  9. I think what you have is a nuthatch. We had one on our previous cedar house. We tacked up a silhouette of a hawk and that worked. So should the owl or the balloons.

  10. We had the same issue on our house shortly a few years ago. We tried reflective tape (that was oddly, ridiculously expensive for what you got) that hung from a plastic bracket attached to the side of the house. That sorta worked for a while. We added a fake owl and (later) a fake red-tail hawk on the advice that hawks are their No. 1 enemy – who knows? I’d think that plastic birds of prey wouldn’t vary much in efficacy. We still move them around, but I don’t know how much good they do. They mostly lie around the yard looking like passed out college students.

    We didn’t get rid of the woodpecker for good until we replaced and repainted the wood sections in question. We’ll still see him flying around the neighborhood. I presume he’s picking on other houses, but I’m just glad it’s not mine.

    While this was happening (about a month after we moved in), a couple of feral cats moved into the space outside our chimney and burrowed themselves into the insulation. I wanted to introduce them to our asshole woodpecker, but was unable to align their schedules.

  11. Well your in luck I found you (lol) as I too have all those nasty critter problems as you. As far as your woodpecker problem is concerned, there really isn’t anything you can do. However, the way you described your taps your lovely A-hole is looking for a mate. So in a way it’s good for your house because if were a woody woodpecker fast tap, thats a food source tap and then you might have a insect problem. I work 3rd shift and every February for the last 10 years they come to my chimney. Yes, I too have tossed many a pine cone with no luck. Heres what you can do. When you can afford it, put pvc molding for your corner moldings. If they decide to come back, at least the rain won’t rot what they have picked at. I also put fibercement board for the clabbords and I can’t wait to see the looks on their faces when that beak smashes on the cement. For Bees, liquid soap for washing dishes mixed with water sprayed in a spray bottle or the bigger insect sprayers works wonders. They will kill them if you spray them directly so if that bothers you just spray the affected areas only.
    Squirrels and Ass hole chipmonks. After a rash of attic break ins from squirrels and foundation problems from chipmonks….. a long story short is simply buy some relocation traps. They are the most humane thing to do and squirrels quite frankly are dumb. My wife and I thought we had several, but buy the end of 3 months 70 squirrels and 2 chipmonk have been relocated. Just make sure they have located at least 10 miles from the house. Now chipmonks…. I never really realized why Donald Duck had such a hatred for Chip and Dale until I encountered them for my self. The last little SOB I still can’t catch and it’s been over a year. Hope this helps and good luck.

  12. If that’s the bird that’s causing your problem, it’s a white breasted nuthatch, not a woodpecker.

    1. If that’s the case, then I don’t need to worry as much about habitat issues… thanks!

  13. I remember Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck getting into it and saying “This means WAR!” Is that who you’re thinking of?

    1. Strangely, no, though it IS an excellent guess. For a minute I thought it might be from All Dogs Go to Heaven, a favorite of mine as a kid.

  14. What’s with nature…sometimes. We care for, maintain and update with our own personl touches to make our dwellings living friendly/beautiful and then assholes like these little feathered rambling peckers come along and hammer holes in our houses. Like in this busy hectic world we live in were in search of just one more thing to keep us from a good nights sleep NOT. I’m no bird man from Alcatraz by no means, however I’ve been pestered by many a asshole from ( animals, birds, noxcious weeds & other kind ) and I’m thinking the best defense and eradication of these warbbling feathered little assholes is patience ~ trial & error / much of both. I’d research them and what there natural preditors are and maybe you can find or craft their preditors in a decoy form spray with clear coat to water proof and place them around or on your house in the problem areas these guys like to drill holes in ( wouldn’t look as near bad as balloons conjunction with their fav food in a feeding area away from the house in the back corner of the yard. You may find 2 or 3 procedures in conjunction with each other seem to work best. Yeah, do find out how to control their food source ( pest exterminator ) if you have a bug or mite on your house they munch on, but be informed about all chemical aspects of any spray someone may tell you need to take care of the problem if that is the case Sarah. You’ll get them no doubt, and on a positive note. at least their not the 12 – 13 inch Pileated WoodPecker ~ The Pileated Woodpecker is one of the biggest, most striking forest birds on the continent. … Look (and listen) for Pileated Woodpeckers whacking at dead trees and fallen logs in search of their main prey, carpenter ants, leaving unique rectangular holes in the wood.
    Good luck getting rid of the feathered noise makers / wood destroyers aka assholes,

  15. While I don’t have a wood pecker problem, I think I would rather that than a white ant problem. Hopefully that’s not whats attracting them….