Damaged Tree Mystery at the Gardens

by Linda Petite

Last week one of our instructors emailed me to ask if I noticed the unusual parallel cuts on the bark of the Arbutus unedo in the Drought Tolerant Garden. After standing there in awe of the amazing patterns this unknown rodent or bird had created , I decided it best to take some pictures and send it out to a few local experts.



Nobody knew for sure what was doing the damage, but it looked like something with teeth!

We went to look for something to wrap the trunk with to deter the unknown culprit and there it was busy at work!

Busted! A red- breasted sapsucker caught in the act!!

Red- breasted sapsuckers drill holes and remove bark to get at the flowing sap in the tree.

Bartlett has an article on sapsucker damage management.  Several articles mention a physical barrier of burlap will deter them.

We don't want to lose this wonderful tree and plan to do all we can to help it recover from the sapsucker damage.

Does anyone have any suggestions or tips to share about this?

Please let me know - [email protected]

Isn't nature amazing?