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Woodpeckers and fiber cement siding

DonMarty's picture

Has anyone had any experience with woodpecker damage to fiber cement siding products like Hardie or CertainTeed? In wisconsin, woodpeckers love western red cedar and can do masive damage. I'd like to know if woodpeckers are attracted to the wood-like grain pattern of fiber cement products and can they damage it just like cedar? Since fiber cement is obviously much tougher than cedar, woodpeckers may not be able to bore through it as easily as cedar, but I'm concerned that they will still be able to damage it. I'd hate to rip all the cedar siding off my house and replace it with fiber cement, only to have the woodpeckers damage it too!

It ain't pretty fer nice, but it's hell fer strong.

It ain't pretty fer nice, but it's hell fer strong.

(post #55982, reply #1 of 13)

No idea about woodpeckers, but Toucans can break concrete. Years ago I was in the Bird House at the San Diego Zoo. This is a wire cage about 25' tall by who knows long. The ends are tilt up concrete ellipse shapes, the sides and top is chain link like net. 

There was a Toucan making a break for it, nailing the concrete like a slow motion woodpecker. Pieces were coming out of the hole he had going. I don't know how long he'd been at it, or if he ever made it out, but he was making progress.

Seems like that wall was about a foot thick, so his nose might have been the limiting factor.

Joe H

(post #55982, reply #2 of 13)

My point exactly. A bird can do an amazing amount of damage. I patched one of the pecker holes with a piece of galvanized sheet metal and a few days later, found several small dents in it like someone had been at it with an ice pick. The woodpecker never made it through and finally gave up, but the point is that they are not easily deterred. I would really like to hear from someone that can confirm that fiber cement siding cured their woodpecker problem. The sales reps claim that wood peckers don't like FC, but it wouldn't be the first time that a rep's claims didn't fit with reality.

It ain't pretty fer nice, but it's hell fer strong.

It ain't pretty fer nice, but it's hell fer strong.

(post #55982, reply #3 of 13)

Woodpeckers destroy wood in their search for food. Where cedar that is not meticulously maintained and occasionally treated with an insecticide is a veritable shmorgasboard for wp's, fc provides no chance of insect infestation and will not be bothererd by woodpeckers. Wether they can damage it or not is irrelevant. Where abouts in Wis? I live 5 miles south of the Wis border in heavy woods and had severe woodpecker problems. Changed to FC. Haven't had it installed long enough to say for sure that what I said is an absolute, though, but I bet $16k on it.

(post #55982, reply #4 of 13)

Yea, what Tim said- I'm no expert on birds but it is my understanding that woodpeckers are not particularly interested in destroying wood. It's just that wood is usually in between them and their lunch. They can hear insects inside of trees and even walls so if you have a woodpecker problem you might also need to be concerned about what the woodpeckers are after.

I can't say for sure but I would be willing to bet that FC would do little to deter a determined woodpecker if he still thinks he can hear his lunch crawling around behind it. Their beaks are like steel spikes and they are as stubborn and persistent as a cantankerous old, yellow dog democrat in an election year. If you want to get rid of the woodpeckers, get rid of their meal ticket first.

Oh yea, one other thing. Just like a fish can be fooled by a plastic lure, I would bet that woodpeckers can be fooled by sounds that imitate insects munching in your wall. If there is a particular area they seem to be attacking there may be something like a ticking water pipe that makes them believe its worth their time to drill for the mother load in that precise spot.

Kevin Halliburton

Edited 2/18/2003 11:30:17 AM ET by wrecked angle



If we fail to catch a cosmic fish it may be a trillion years before the opportunity comes again

(post #55982, reply #7 of 13)

The small holes may be for food, but I think the big holes are for shelter and marking territory. If it's just food, why do they remove so damn much wood to get to bugs that I can't even see. Seems like a lot of work for little reward.

It ain't pretty fer nice, but it's hell fer strong.

It ain't pretty fer nice, but it's hell fer strong.

(post #55982, reply #6 of 13)

I've heard the food theory before and I'm not convinced that's it entirely. Every woodpecker problem that I've seen has been on a cedar, cedar shingle or tex sheathing house. Rough texture, knots and cedar color seem to attract them. There has to be plenty of bugs (food)behind vinyl siding, yet they never seem to bother it. Maybe their claws can't get a grip on it as they can with cedar. I think that they like cedar because it's easy to peck through and is real wood. They love to bore through the siding and foam board and nest in the wall cavities. They also mark there territory by marking or drumming on the cedar. I'm not saying that food isn't part of it, but they seem to be particularly found of my cedar house and have no apparent interest in my neighbor's vinyl home, 200 feet away.

The problem is that I dislike vinyl as much as the peckers do. I like fiber cement because it looks like wood and I'm concerned that the peckers will think it looks like wood too and move in. They may also be able to get a grip on fiber cement with their claws.

How long have you had fiber cement siding on your house? It sounds like it's not attracting peckers so far which is encouraging.

By the way, I tried the electronic distress call and bobble head owl methods and got no relief. They simply ignored the electronic distress call. The first night that I had the owl decoy up on the roof, I heard a Barred owl making a lot of noise and the next morning, the bobble head was laying in the lawn. The decapitated decoy was still in place on the roof. I guess that owls are easier to fool than peckers. I'm also told that a rat trap screwed to the side of the house near a pecker hole with a little suet for bait is very effective, but illegal of course. I've got better things to do than climb up a ladder to reset traps every few days.

Thanks for the info.

It ain't pretty fer nice, but it's hell fer strong.

It ain't pretty fer nice, but it's hell fer strong.

(post #55982, reply #5 of 13)

I don't know for sure. I can tell you that they probably won't like the taste of it, or the dust flying into their eyes, since I've had maybe a ton of it flying by and into my face by now.

It will dull a steel jigsaw blade in about 6 decent sized cuts. I'm not sure if it will have that abrasive an effect on a woodpecker's beak, or even if they are smart enough to realize it.

We had a woodpecker drilling away at a camouflaged, upside down aluminum canoe for about a year. Made a most resounding noise, echoing through the neighborhood.

If you smack your head into something 20,000 times a day, you're not bound to be too bright.

A theory I have is that they like to drill on cedar because it's so ridiculously soft. It's not full of bugs, so maybe they just do it to put on a show.

(post #55982, reply #8 of 13)

I think you're right.

It ain't pretty fer nice, but it's hell fer strong.

It ain't pretty fer nice, but it's hell fer strong.

(post #55982, reply #9 of 13)

i've seen woodpeckers make holes in cement stucco.. and the holes were patched with cement mortar.. they came back and reopened them..

no one could tell us what Woody was looking for.. some said sub-sonic hum from wirign may have convinced him there were bugs.. or maybe he could hear termites..

hope FC is harder than stucco.. because the cement didn't seem to phase Woody


Mike Smith Rhode Island : Design / Build / Repair / Restore

Mike Smith Rhode Island : Design / Build / Repair / Restore


(post #55982, reply #10 of 13)

If I remember correctly, in addition to finding lunch and building their vacation home, woodpeckers will also drum on noisy materials to assert their macho - sort of like the buy with the biggest, loudest pickup...  (Probably asserting macho, or announcing to rivals that this is their place, was the reason for the pecking on the aluminum canoe mentioned earlier.) 


(post #55982, reply #11 of 13)

Woodpeckers peck to:

         Find food

        Build nest cavities

       "Drum" to attract a mate

There are a number of varieties of these 'peckers and most don't mess with houses.

For those that do, I doubt if FC is going to be a big deterent (if you can drive a nail in it, they can peck through it), especially if there are bugs behind it  (woodpeckers also eat berries and stuff) Mike says, they'll bore holes in other materials beside cedar. 

However, I think it's less likely they're going to be a problem with FC than many other materials.

A woodpecker bored a nest cavity in a creosoted power pole behind our house one year and raised several young.

Jules Quaver for President   2004


(post #55982, reply #12 of 13)

I was told that they only go for vertical siding, it looks like trees. As for listening for insects, I was repairing wood pecker holes in my brothers house( vertical cedar ) and i went up in the attic to see if i could see any daylight. I was greeted by numerous wasps,hornets? up there. I'm sure they made lots of noise.

(post #55982, reply #13 of 13)

I hadn't thought about the drumming for a mate thing. I remember the first time I ever heard a woodpecker working over and aspen in Colorado. I thought someone was emptying the clip on a full auto somewhere.

Come to think of it, I've beat my head on a wall a few times over women. :-)> I probably wouldn't try it on fiber cement on the worst day so your probably fine! Surely even the baddest WP out there could find something a little less painful to show off on.

Kevin Halliburton

"One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man." -Elbert Hubbard-

Edited 2/20/2003 6:33:21 PM ET by wrecked angle



If we fail to catch a cosmic fish it may be a trillion years before the opportunity comes again