Saturday, February 10, 2007

Somewhat Mysterious Damage on Sapling Bur Oak Bark

We have one - and only one - bur oak on our 10 acres, and I've been really glad that we have at least that one. It's a fairly young, but seemingly well established, sapling planted near the draw.

Earlier this week as I was wandering the yard, I noticed that the bark looked strange. When I looked more closely, it appeared to have been eaten off in places. There was no damage near the ground, nor were there obvious toothmarks, so a bird seemed the likeliest cause, although I also wondered about a mouse-like critter.

When I took Prariewolf out to look at it today, he noticed a woodpecker flying off. (He thought it was either a hairy or a downy.) That would be consistent with the texture on the "eaten" areas of the bark.
The questions now are "Why is this bark being eaten?" and "Is it really a woodpecker doing this damage?" and "Will this kill or set back the tree this year?"

I checked - it's the only tree in the yard getting munched on in this manner.

Could be bark beetles. Could be a weird food fetish on the part of the woodpecker.

Has anyone else ever seen damage like this before? Any ideas?

Otherwise, I'll post more about it when I know more about it!
Last note: I've got better photos, but for some reason I couldn't get a portrait format photo to load without switching to landscape format tonight. Me or the new blogger? Ah, the big questions in life!


Gaia gardener said...

Watching carefully yesterday, it was downy woodpeckers doing the work on the bark. I saw both the male and the female at different points.

I still don't know what they are going after...haven't wanted to start stripping more bark on my own. But that's probably my next best step.

qkslvrwolf said...

Gaiagardener, garden sleuth...

I think you're getting yourself set up for lake woebegone...

Gaia gardener said...

"Gaia Noir", so to speak?

qkslvrwolf said...