U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Document Type


Date of this Version



Wildlife Society Bulletin 35(1):40–44; 2011; DOI: 10.1002/wsb.7


Woodpecker damage to utility poles results in significant monetary losses to utility companies worldwide. Most techniques for repelling woodpeckers from utility poles are costly, difficult to install, effective for a limited time, or ineffective. We evaluated the Sonic Dissuader for detecting and deterring pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) damage to wooden utility poles in controlled flight pens. The Sonic Dissuader emits pileated woodpecker and avian predator calls contingent upon pecking by woodpeckers. Ratios of departure were lower and woodpeckers spent more time after a pecking event on the pole with the Sonic Dissuader compared to the control pole (paired t = 6.26, df = 7, P < 0.001, and F1,4 = 5.00, P = 0.089, respectively). This may substantiate observed behavior of pileated woodpeckers to freeze when confronted with a predator. We did not observe differences in amount of time spent on poles, amount of time spent pecking on poles, and weight of wood chips removed from poles with and without the Sonic Dissuader. We propose that testing distress calls or other repellents as potential deterrents in combination with detection technology is warranted.