Help! My Catalpa got savaged by a woodpecker!

TonyQMay 12, 2014

Late in winter, one of my large 25-yr-old catalpas was attacked by a pileated woodpecker. At first I thought it was hollowing out a nest, but then it drilled more and more large cavities in the tree.
I assume now, that it was looking for food in the core.
After 8 or 9 large cavities were chopped in, (big enough to fit a football in) the Pileated went elsewhere leaving me with almost a hollow tree. The bark is mostly all there, but Im worried that the tree might blow over in a strong wind.
I used to park my car under it in the summer, for shade, but I wouldn't dare do this now!
I've sprayed a few of the larger holes with Tree-tar, but how can I strengthen the core of this tree? Would concrete be OK? A friend patched his catalpa with concrete 15 years ago and now the tree is bigger than ever!

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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Sealers and fillers are seriously out-of-date. Often make things worse.

Contact several Certified Arborists for an on-site look-see. You need a person who is qualified to evaluate potentially hazardous trees.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 1:46AM
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IME pileated woodpeckers don't go to town on healthy trees, so the advice to get an arborist to look at it is a good idea.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 7:38AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

if this tree is overhanging a house.. or anything valuable ... it most likely needs to go ... it is a severe danger to you and your stuff .. and perhaps the neighbors.. but that would depend if you like them .....

see above about a local trained professional .. and to be clear.. not every monkey with a chainsaw is a trained asa cert'd professional

of course.. if you already know the answer ... and were just hoping we came up with another answer .... then all you need is an INSURED monkey with a chainsaw.. and be done with this nightmare ....

i totally agree .. that there is something significantly.. structurally .... wrong with the interior of the tree.. for the pecker of wood to do that ... it needs to go ... and now that giant holes have been introduced.. its going to rot even faster than it probably was ....


    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 7:52AM
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beng(z6 western MD)

I've seen pileateds dig out cavities in perfectly healthy trees. I think they sometimes just like to chop away at something, like a picture-window frame on my house yrs ago. In late winter/spring the males are fired up, so might explain its exuberance.

Catalpa wood is very rot-resistant even if wet. So it may be OK given time.

This post was edited by beng on Tue, May 13, 14 at 10:50

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 8:49AM
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beng(z6 western MD)

To add, a pileated woodpecker carved out a big cavity about shoulder-height in a healthy scarlet oak trunk when I was in Virginia. I was very surprised how fast the opening calloused over -- just a few yrs.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 12:08PM
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