Woodpecker Attacking Holly Tree

Asked March 25, 2016, 9:19 PM EDT

Hello: Recently I found terrible damage done to my holly tree here in The Dalles. All of the damage was done within the last week. I believe the culprit is a woodpecker. I've wrapped the trunk with fabric, but I need a permanent fix.Please see the attached photos and let me know what you think. I really like this tree.... Many thanks, Mike W. (503) 312-2537

Wasco County Oregon human-wildlife issues tree health

1 Response

Hi Mike,

Thanks for your question. It appears that you may have some sapsucker damage on your holly tree. Sapsuckers differ from woodpeckers in that they are not foraging for insects in the tree; they are feeding on the tree sap. When damage is minor, the tree will recover. But in your case where the damage is somewhat extensive, the holes can expose the tree to other issues, such as fungal disease.

Generally, it is recommended to cover the area with burlap to deter the sapsucker from returning to the tree. You can also hang bright shiny objects to scare the birds away. You might try taking these objects down after a couple of months to see if the sapsucker returns. Sapsuckers are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, so lethal control is not allowed without a permit.

This article from the Pacific Northwest Disease Handbook may be helpful in learning more about sapsucker damage and how to manage it. As the article describes, in the case that a sapsucker cannot be deterred it is better to leave the tree as a sacrifice to keep them away from other trees.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.