Who is making my trees holy?

Q:

I have two 50-60 foot cedar trees in my yard and both of them are covered in little holes from the base to most of the way up the trunk. Can you tell me what is causing this and how I can save my trees? I lost one a few years back and don't want to lose the others. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

- Multnomah County, OR
A:

Hello, those holes are likely from the red breasted sapsucker, a woodpecker that creates these "wells" and then they come back later to drink sap or eat the insects that are attracted to the sap. It seems nearly impossible to predict which tree and how many holes will be drilled. This woodpecker is really common. In terms of management....well that is kind of difficult. Perhaps wrapping the tree with aborist tape that you see at the base of tree occassionally would put the woodpecker off. To control the birds would require a permit as these are protected native birds. Another option is loud noise whenever you see the sapsuckers. The problem is that the birds are erratic, sometimes here, sometimes there, and they may only do this type of damage during one part of the year. So it is difficult to know whether an individual bird in your yard is doing anything like this. Usually we don't think this type of damage will kill a tree. Two websites:

Sorry to say, there generally isn't much you can do about this bird.

David Shaw
Associate Professor
Share this