by Area Forester Lisa Deaton
Snack Bars for Birds
Winter is a time of year when people start to notice damage to their trees. Yellow-bellied sapsuckers are a member of the woodpecker family, and they can drill an alarming number of holes into a single tree in search of sap and insects.
This is a large yellow-poplar in Gloucester County.
While the holes are certainly an injury that can allow fungi and bacteria to enter a tree, the holes do not generally cause a great deal of harm.
Other woodpecker species common to Virginia are the downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, red-headed woodpecker, red-bellied woodpecker, northern flicker, and pileated woodpecker – the largest of them all. These species dine mainly on insects and will pull apart decomposing wood on the ground and in standing trees as they hunt for food.
If you see wood chips or flakes at the base of a tree…
simply look up, and you will see the tree top that is serving as a “snack bar in the sky.”