Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Woodpeckers

It is snowing here in central Wisconsin. I suppose it beats tornadoes.

This is my Austrian black pine. It seems to be on attack from all sides. When little (about 4-foot tall), and pre-fence which makes for better neighbors, an ice scanty was dragged across it. Two years ago, it seems to have had some sort of insect infestation drawing woodpeckers. The horror!

I have since contemplated cutting it down while I could still manage the job myself.

This morning, while walking the boxer, the woodpeckers have returned. A quick pound-pound and a flurry of wings. Then a fluttering settling of wings and the peeking around the neighbor's boxelder, "Is she gone?"

I didn't capture them myself. The obvious answer was, "No, here she comes with that soul-stealing thingee! Fly!!"

Mugshot of perpetrator, dragged down from the internet. Shout-out to this birding blog by Cristina Arno.)

(Photo by Gina Mikel.)

So I saw a pair of these pileated woodpeckers. As much as I like to see these guys, I do hope they don't totally destroy the cambrium layer of my pine!


  1. Question: Do woodpeckers peck mostly on wood that is already doomed? Or does the pecking do the dooming?

    1. Supposedly the insects are already there. Whether the insects will do the dooming is probably dependent on the type of insects and level of infestation. Sometimes insects also carry fungal diseases which could be more lethal than the insects or the woodpeckers. The way the woodpeckers drilled so efficiently around nearly the entire trunk for a length of nearly two feet up and down the trunk was very bad. Woodpeckers are protected, so you nead to find a way of separating them from the trunk in a non-lethal way. Maybe caging farther from the trunk than their becks can reach or shiny moving things to scare them off. Then deal with the insects/fungal stuff.

      During this last summer's drought, I took special care that my pine got all the water it needed. I had never seen any sort of evidence of insects or fungal diseases so decided against doing any herbicidal/pesticidal spraying.

      The pine looked better this fall and the holes had healed.

  2. I don't have the woodpecker problem here by the lake since there are no good size tree on this property. All the Austrian Pine planted by the neighbors are doing well along the lot lines and no woodpeckers there either. Humm, maybe they don't like me. I may start having a low self esteem issue here!
    However, like you it is snowing today - LOTS. Beautiful, but enough already. Jack

  3. I sincerely hope that your Austrian Pine returns to full health. But Pileated Woodpeckers! That would be so exciting. Love the mugshot.

    1. Yeah, they are fun to see, peeking out around the neighbor's box elder like two crazed nuthatches with their goofy topknots, only bigger than most crows! But my pine!