Signs of Woodpecker Damage to Trees

Woodpeckers quickly announce themselves in yards with their loud pecking. To identify woodpecker damage on trees, search for lines of closely spaced holes on trunks and branches. Trees with sweet-tasting sap are the most likely targets. In addition, look for dead limbs and leaking sap, which can attract other pests. Affected trees may also have wood decay, fungi, and other plant diseases. Specific woodpecker species can even kill trees.

Why Do Woodpeckers Damage Trees?

The birds create holes in trees to reach food below the bark and clear cavities for their nests. Woodpeckers often use the same tree for both, which increases the chance of significant damage. Pecking may also establish the pests' territory to rivals or signal mates. Woodpeckers choose materials with strong, resonant sounds that carry long distances. Unfortunately, this means homeowners can also hear their loud tapping during the early morning on trees, roofs, siding, fences, and utility poles.

Prevention & Removal

To keep woodpeckers from causing more damage, wrap affected trees in hardware cloth or burlap. Repellents, bird tape, and shiny foil can also deter them from feeding on specific trees, though they may turn to others in the same yard. Removing pest insects that attract the birds, like termites and carpenter ants, can also be effective. Since it's illegal to kill or harm woodpeckers, residents should leave removal to professionals with the right tools and training.