Holes in my trees…most commonly blamed bird woody the woodpecker!
Both are birds indeed but both do different damages. I have had a few calls from landowners curious as to how they can keep the woodpeckers away from their beautiful yard trees. I ask them what kind of trees they have as well as the overall health. Sapsuckers enjoy maples and oaks, woodpeckers do not discriminate with species so much they just enjoy the dying or dead trees where the larvae and other bugs are. So if the tree is a maple or an oak and in good health its more likely to be a sapsucker. If the tree is already showing signs of decay and dieback it could be our friend woody the woodpecker. If It is still hard for me to guess over the phone I ask the one sure fire question. Are they tiny holes in horizontal rows? If I get a yes its sappy the sapsucker and if no they are random large holes its woodpecker damage.
Sapsuckers (Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker in Michigan) form lots of small holes in horizontal lines. This allows for sap to flow out which they feed on. Other animals benefit from this and feed on the sap as well. Sapsuckers also feed on insects and suet. So I guess if you want to protect your trees hang bunches and bunches of suet cakes in the tree!
Extensive sapsucker damage will eventually kill the tree if it is not strong. It is cutting off the flow of water and nutrients in the cambium layer.
Woodpeckers are considered the 3rd sign of a trees death. They normally go after weak trees that are already dying. They are in search for all the insects and larvae burrowing around under the bark of trees. They are looking for beetles, spiders, centipedes “Nom Nom Nom”! Many woodpeckers help control the populations of invasive or other pests that are destructive to the forest. Woodpeckers will also feed on nuts, seeds, and suet.
The only way I know of controlling these birds, to keep them from coming back to landowners trees is to put reflective things up in the tree or by the house. Old cds or mirrors hanging in the branches is what I suggest, but its not full- proof. I did have one landowner call back and say she cut up old pop cans; creative.
If you see a white butted bird fly away from your tree robin size…chances are you are watching a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker fly away!!!