Using kitchen supplies to fend off woodpeckers

By Hector Lo
Senior Category (Grades 11-12)
Experiment | Biology, Environment

The greater Vancouver area is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including a substantial population of Woodpeckers (Family Picidae). Though mostly innocuous, these birds can pose a risk to human property and safety through such means as exposing and damaging hidden pipes and general property deterioration. Common methods of controlling woodpeckers have traditionally involved using noises or reflective metals to ward them off of vulnerable property, but these methods can have negative side effects such as attracting other wildlife (such as crows and raccoons) or creating inconveniences for neighbours.

This study aimed to develop a method of Woodpecker deterrence based on scent, which is keenly developed in the species. This would be a more efficient deterrent method with fewer potential collateral effects. In order to achieve this, three solutions were prepared using commonly found kitchen supplies. The 3 solutions were crushed chili with water, crushed garlic with water, and crushed chili and garlic with water. (The “crushing” was in fact puree preparation using a food processor.) The solutions were mixed and added to a spray bottle, then sprayed on trees in local area that is subject to potential Woodpecker damage. The solutions were sprayed on the “injured spot” of 3 trees that woodpeckers have previously pecked, and left untouched for 10 days. All 3 solutions proved effective in repelling woodpeckers, as measured by continuous video surveillance. This new product has the potential to be adopted as a benign and effect method of bird control on private or commercial property.

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