Doug Fir health/woodpecker

Asked September 17, 2018, 1:50 PM EDT

Hi, We have two very large Doug fir trees in front of our house and recently noticed a woodpecker damaging the trunk near the base of the south facing tree. I have included pictures of the trees and the woodpecker damage, wondering if this is a sign of disease or just poor health in this tree. Last year we added mulch to the area and I worry it didn’t let the roots of this tree breathe, is this a possibility for the cause of the issue and if so what can we do to help the tree?

Multnomah County Oregon

1 Response

The woodpecker is foraging for insects. In the close-up picture, it does appear that the wood underneath the bark has some decay in it, which is why the insects are there.

Mulching around tree roots is considered good practice, although it's best not to pile the mulch right up to the base of the tree. In any case I doubt that the mulch is related to the tree's poor health. More likely it predated the mulch.

Because this tree is so close to your house, it should be evaluated by a certified arborist to determine whether it is a hazard. You can find a directory of certified arborists here: