How does a small red, white and black endangered species bird, weighing about 1-5 ounces, drive homeowners bonkers?

Southwest Florida is blessed with an abundance of natural wildlife and wild birds. None are as destructive as the woodpecker.  When developers cut down trees and woodlands to build new homes, they disrupt the dead trees which are the natural nesting site for woodpeckers. This usually means that the woodpeckers must find another place to prepare nests for their mates. And your home may be the best target.

Many of the homes in Southwest Florida are built with ornamental fascia, corbels and curved arches. Most people don’t know that these ornamental features are usually made of Styrofoam, covered with a veneer finish and sanded to allow for painting.  From a distance it appears the items are made of stucco or cement—but they are not! And they are a favorite place for woodpeckers to build their nests.

The most damaging type of woodpecker is the downy and red-bellied woodpecker. Known to many people as “drummers”, they are always searching for food sources and drumming sites. Drumming is a ritual in the springtime mating season, and your Styrofoam fascia, corbels and curved arches are a target rich environment.

Woodpeckers are protected from harm by state and federal law as an endangered species. So you definitely want to make sure your property is repaired before the woodpeckers nest, lay eggs and hatch young birds keeping you unable to make repairs for several weeks or months.

Some people try scare tactics like displaying decoy owls and crows which are natural enemies of the woodpecker.  Other deterrents include visual aids such as strips of aluminum file attached to the home, the use of windsocks, electronic sound generators, motion activated deterrents and/or sometimes a diversionary suet feeder. However, many homeowner associations have restrictions about what can be placed on your home so some of these tactics are not feasible. And these birds are resourceful requiring you to switch up the deterrents when they become used to one.

We have a client with a large home in Estero with many corbels. They have a history of the woodpeckers attacking their corbels, spending thousands of dollars over the years repairing and/or replacing corbels on their home. And once a hole is repaired, the birds come back and make another hole right next to the repaired one. A typical cost for repair can be as low as $20 for each hole to $200 or more if it needs replacing. And this cost doesn’t include the aggravation of having holes all over your beautiful home and Styrofoam debris scattered all over your driveway, yard and flower beds.

One of the most difficult things about getting repairs made is finding someone who is qualified to do the work. Many exterminators offer repair in combination with a placing a coating to deter the birds. This at best, is a short term solution. Some recommend a process that involves layering the Styrofoam with thin strips of fiberglass and adding a hardening agent that makes it more difficult for the birds to start the holes. 

About the best we have found for this work is a product that has a guaranteed FGRC modified concrete hard coating system that can be field sprayed or shop wet casted. It comes with a limited lifetime warranty and is guaranteed for 10 years. This process involves creating a mold to form to the shape of the design feature.   It is wet covered with the FGRC modified concrete and when cured it is as if you have a solid piece of concrete—but the reality is the Styrofoam is coated with about a ¼” of super hardened material.  This process is costly—but effective and will prevent recurrent intrusions.

Even if you are able to find someone to make the repairs, you may find you can’t have the repairs made for several weeks, simply due to the fact that this is the mating season which runs from early Spring to June of each year and most repair vendors get extremely backlogged at this time.  It may be best to simply allow the birds to nest and hatch their eggs, however the newborns will likely return to your home year after year unless you decide to pay for the expensive modified concrete solution.

Carefree Home Watch offers a Concierge service which includes contacting qualified vendors (licensed, insured and bonded) and obtaining estimates.  Once you select the vendor to do the repair, Carefree will meet the vendor on site and will oversee the work providing you documentation of the process.  This frees up your time to enjoy your stay and make your visit to Southwest Florida as carefree as possible!!

Carefree Home Watch is a professional Home Watch provider serving Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Bonita Beach, North Fort Myers and Babcock Ranch. Visit or contact us at or by phone at 239-234-1847. Carefree Home Watch is owned and operated by Larry and Terry Meek.

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