Woodpeckers drilling costly holes in Calgary homes

The northern flicker woodpecker is taking a shine to a popular stucco used on many of Calgary's newer homes.

Northern flickers attracted to a particular style of stucco

Damage done by a woodpecker at a Calgary seniors complex. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

Some Calgary homeowners say they're plagued by incessant drumming as the northern flicker woodpecker, a protected species in Canada, attempts to drill its way into the stucco on the outside of their homes.

"Flicker woodpeckers, they come here every year and drill their holes and they cause a lot of damage. It's frustrating, very frustrating," said Harley Sanders, who is on the board of a seniors community on the outskirts of Calgary.

The northern flicker woodpecker is drilling holes in some Calgary homes, like this one in Bonavista. (Caroline Csak)

Sanders says dozens of homes in the complex have been damaged and estimates the cost of repairs at $15,000.

The condo board has tried everything from hanging CDs outside to spending hundreds of dollars on kites to scare off the woodpeckers, says Sanders.

Keith Eisenkrein with Ogopogo Stucco says the woodpeckers are attracted to a popular and inexpensive exterior wall finish.

"It has a hard coat shell over top of styrofoam and the birds use that sound for mating purposes," said Eisenkrein.

The B.C.-based company used to get a few calls a month out of Calgary. 

"Now I'm getting 50 to 60 calls a month," said Eisenkrein.  

Pest control companies also get calls about the northern flicker woodpeckers, but there is little they can do because the bird is protected.

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