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Do Woodpeckers Damage Trees?

Damaged tree surrounded by yellow tape in preparation for a tree service

You hear the thrumming of the woodpecker more often than you see the beautiful bird. Tap-tap-tap against the chosen tree, keeping control over the vast number of insects that could otherwise overtake an area and providing homes and refuge for other birds and mammals. The after-effects of a visit from a woodpecker can often be seen in the small holes clustered on or in a straight line along the tree. We have 23 types of woodpeckers in the US, and they all create these holes which are generally only up to an inch (2.5cm) in diameter, but do these holes they affect the health of your tree?

The Damage Woodpeckers Can Cause to Trees

Although unsightly, these small holes often have no effect on the tree itself, however, they do open up opportunities for disease to enter the tree and for insects to overrun the area and make it their home. The reason a woodpecker might be choosing your tree is down to an infestation of insects; this is generally the reason behind woodpecker damage to trees, as they’re looking for insects to eat.

Woodpeckers also create larger holes for nesting which is far more likely to encourage disease. Unfortunately, these holes can cause girdling injuries too, which, if left untreated, may eventually end with the tree unable to recover and sadly die. Woodpeckers do like to choose trees that are already dead or rotting and will only choose healthy trees (or sometimes houses and fence posts) if they have to. If you think your tree is dead and you would like it removed, we provide safe and efficient removal of trees and stumps, ensuring that no damage is made to the surrounding area. We also offer a range of tree care services so if you are concerned your tree is infested by insects, you can contact us and we can provide you with pest infestation identification and treatment for your tree.

How to Prevent Tree Damage from Woodpeckers

It is obviously an extreme reaction to remove your tree, so we have some handy information on how to prevent tree damage from woodpeckers.

The best tip is to try and deter the woodpecker from coming to your tree in the first place. A classic DIY solution is to hang CDs or something shiny and bright on a string as woodpeckers are scared of the reflected light and don’t want to go near it. One of the best deterrents to be found is reflective tape, this also has the bonus of making a crinkling sound in the wind that woodpeckers don’t like.

Another solution is to wrap your tree in material or netting to not allow the woodpecker to perch. This also has the added benefit of giving the tree extra protection from insects, storms, and extreme weather conditions.

It is important to note that all species of woodpeckers are protected by law and so the killing of woodpeckers is not permitted.

How to Repair Tree Damage from Woodpeckers

It is important to act promptly if you are noticing damage to your tree. As mentioned earlier, if left, damage can cause diseases to flourish and ultimately kill the tree.

The trick is knowing if your tree has been damaged. If there are only a few holes that are an inch (2.5cm) or smaller, it is best to treat the holes with a fungicide then do nothing and let the tree take care of itself, otherwise, you could make the problem worse if there is a disease that has been trapped inside and now has no escape because the hole has been filled. For larger holes, clean the area with fungicide then cover only that area with a mesh or window screen to prevent the woodpecker from causing more damage, then give the tree time to recover.

Seek Professional Advice

As always, it is best to consult the professionals when dealing with tree damage from woodpeckers. We advise you to contact our specialists at Homer Tree Care who will be able to offer suggestions for your tree damage and treat your trees so that they flourish and live a long, healthy life. Contact us today for the best tree and plant care support.

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