Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Holes in Bradford Pear Are Likely the Work of Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Holes in Bradford Pear Are Likely the Work of Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker

Article excerpt

Q * There's a bird that has drilled a ring of holes all the way around the trunk of my prized Bradford pear. Is this going to hurt the tree? And if so, what can I do to control the problem?

A * Most likely, that ring of holes was drilled by a yellow- bellied sapsucker. Sapsuckers are small, dark woodpeckers with a red patch on their forehead and a large white patch on their wings. Adult males also have red throats, while the female's throat is white. Young birds are generally brown except for the distinctive wing patches. Unless you have an excellent closeup look at the bird, the dull, yellow belly feathers are frequently overlooked.

Sapsuckers are wary birds and will hop around to the opposite side of the tree if they sense they are being watched. They drill holes into the cambium layer just beneath the bark. This causes sap to flow, which provides an energy-rich food source. Insects, also attracted to the sap, are eaten by the birds as they return to the tree.

Though the holes they make are sometimes mistakenly thought to be caused by insects, the orderly fashion to the rows drilled one above the other readily distinguishes them from the entirely random holes created by insects. …

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