Skip to Main Content

Northern Flickers – Wood Peckers

**Wildlife Pests Require a Wildlife Professional & are NOT Considered Pest Control – We are providing this information as a service to our customers and would be happy to refer you to a wildlife control company to further assist you. **

Responsible for a majority of the structural damage inflected by wood peckers in Colorado, Northern Flickers are capable of causing significant property damage to homes and commercial buildings.  Protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Act, woodpeckers including the Northern Flicker cannot be legally lethally controlled without first obtaining a depredation permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  The permit requires that property owners to provide documentation on the damage being done and what measures have been taken to stop the damage.  Permits are typically offered as a last resort when other methods have failed.  Even after a permit is obtained, city and county regulations may restrict the types of lethal control allowed within a given area.

Northern Flickers are easily identified.  A medium sized bird; Northern Flickers are light brown in color with black barring on their back and black spots on their tan to white breast and belly.  Males have red streaks on their face that give them a mustache appearance.  During flight, Northern Flickers are identified by the yellow (east) or salmon/red (west) coloring under their wings and stiff tail feathers.

Woodpeckers drill holes into wood and stucco for a few reasons.  Hammering or “drumming” begins in the spring and is typically finished by July 1st each year.  Woodpeckers drum in order to both attract a mate and to defend their territory.  Drilling occurs when woodpeckers are seeking a nesting site in which to raise their young.  Aside from utilizing houses and buildings for nesting sites, Northern Flickers excavate their nests from snags (dead or dying trees).  Homes and other buildings have become suitable replacements as the availability of dead trees has decreased with increasing growth in and around cities.

Several deterrent methods are available for woodpeckers.  Owl decoys are typically unsuccessful in limiting woodpecker damage.  Mirrors and other shiny objects such as pinwheels, hawk mobiles, plastic strips and pie tins suspended from areas prone to damage have shown some success in stopping Northern Flicker damage.  Woodpeckers are extremely persistent especially once they have established a territory.  Loud noises may assist in frightening the birds away; however, homeowners will have to be as persistent as the birds.  Installing nesting boxes filled with sawdust that the woodpecker can then “excavate” in order to build their nest has shown success when nesting is the purpose of the woodpecker damage. Chemical deterrents are also available over-the-counter; however, some cause staining and should be tested prior to application to a large area.   Exclusion methods are also available and include bird netting, hardware cloth and metal flashing.  Filling hollow wall voids to change the sound made during drumming may also act to repel Northern Flickers.