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Found While Hiking...


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We were up in Gifford Pinchot this weekend and ran across this tree...

 

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It's close to the ground around the entire tree, and ends around 7+ feet on the back, unpictured, side. I decided to leave out the 'size perspective' photo, but the tree is of a good size, it was the only one I happened to see that looked like this, and the depth of the damage is up to 2" in spots.

 

Any thoughts on what it might be from? A friend suggested porcupine after ruling out Elk (they are prolific in the area). It does tend to look like 'bites' and tears out of the wood - you can see many of the removed chips on the ground around the tree.

 

 

michelle

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Could be porcupine. Bears leave deep and clean scratch marks in the pulp. It also looks pretty fresh. Probably going after the sugar in the sap as this will be a source of food for a very hungry animal at this time of year.

 

Heck it could be Bigfoot scratching his scrawny butt. ;)

Edited by TotemLake
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My first thoughts were that of Elk or Deer rubbing their antlers. Especially because the markings were 7 feet and below. I have seen Elk do that to trees in my area too. However, the gouge markings are so irregular that a woodpecker could have done the damage once he started finding some delicious treats.

 

Another scenario could be aliens. :P There have been numerous sightings in that area recently. :P

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re: the nano cache - it'd be more funny if it were even remotely close to believable that gc'ers wouldn't do that sort of damage (they will)

 

Not a woodpecker - for sure - I've seen plenty of "damage" from woodpeckers and it is completely different.

 

They are not bore holes either. It's not 'bug' activity.

 

It really looks like the pieces have been bitten off. If I can manage the time, I'll try to blow up a section of the second photo for a close-up.

 

Thanks for the input so far - VERY interesting.

 

 

michelle

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Yep, woodpeckers. The upper right shows the beginning of a classic woodpecker hole. Those little buggers can cause a lot of damage. That must have been a very buggy tree. We have a major infestation going on throughout many areas of our state. One reason why so many trees are coming down in the storms we've been having.

 

I've lost 4-5 big hemlocks, doug fir and almost all of my big alders to bark beetles. I cut down a 100 ft. hemlock a couple weeks ago and it was riddled with woodpecker scars like your picture. Not near as large, but very similar.

 

Take a trip up to BC and you'll be shocked at the 1,000s of acs of dead pine trees killed by the pine beetle. It's working it's way south and much of the N. half of E.WA is at risk. Woodpecker heaven isn't too far off.

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barkdamagegreen.jpg

 

The porcupine feeds largely on the inner bark of trees in winter, but it will also feed on a variety of other plants. During winter, although the needles and bark of most trees are acceptable, there are clear favorites: yellow pine in the west, white pine in the Great Lakes area, and hemlock in the northeast states. When the sap rises in spring, the bark of maples is favoured along with the catkins and leaves of alder, poplar, and willow. As more plants come into leaf, the porcupine will eat the leaves of herbs and shrubs, such as currant, rose, thorn apple, violets, dandelion, clover, and grasses. Particularly sought after are the succulent leaves of water lily and arrowhead, for which the porcupine will wade out into streams and even swim, its air-filled quills helping it to keep afloat. In the fall, it will eat beechmasts, or beech tree nuts, and acorns and is not averse to raiding cornfields and orchards. (copied from one of the sites)

 

barked.jpg

 

click the pictures to go to the sites, my vote goes with the porcupine

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Porcupines eat the bark and cambium layer. They are too lazy to spend days chewing up a tree that bad and there isn't anything that deep other than bugs. The tree isn't rotted enough for a bear to dig like that either. You can see it's been dead less than a year. Woodpeckers are the culprit I tell yeah!.....:(

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Winning answer from Fish and Game. Some folks pegged it above.

 

These are pileated woodpecker excavations after carpenter ants. If you look at the top right of the photo, you will see the beginning of an excavation, which is characteristic of pileated work. As they excavate out and deeper, the excavations just continue to get bigger. They can work these for hours and they are built for chiseling wood. Also note the wood chips that extend out from the base of the snag. The size of the chips is also characteristic of pileateds. When they excavate nest cavities up high on a snag, they will fling chips out in a radius from the tree that can extend out 10-20 or more meters, depending on whether the wind is blowing.

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Not to drive this off topic but when I was a kid there was a metal picnic table in the park just across the street from the house. One morning I heard this terrible racket outside - it would go on for about 30 seconds then quit for about 2 minutes and this would repeat for about 15 minutes before I got up to look.

 

Everytime I looked out the window nothing was there, well low and behold I saw what was making all the noise - a stupid woodpecker was going to town on the top of the metal picnic table

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Not to drive this off topic but when I was a kid there was a metal picnic table in the park just across the street from the house. One morning I heard this terrible racket outside - it would go on for about 30 seconds then quit for about 2 minutes and this would repeat for about 15 minutes before I got up to look.

 

Everytime I looked out the window nothing was there, well low and behold I saw what was making all the noise - a stupid woodpecker was going to town on the top of the metal picnic table

 

If you hear a wood pecker rapping on metal it's apt to be a yelow bellied sap sucker. They like to do that.

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Winning answer from Fish and Game. Some folks pegged it above.

 

These are pileated woodpecker excavations after carpenter ants. If you look at the top right of the photo, you will see the beginning of an excavation, which is characteristic of pileated work. As they excavate out and deeper, the excavations just continue to get bigger. They can work these for hours and they are built for chiseling wood. Also note the wood chips that extend out from the base of the snag. The size of the chips is also characteristic of pileateds. When they excavate nest cavities up high on a snag, they will fling chips out in a radius from the tree that can extend out 10-20 or more meters, depending on whether the wind is blowing.

 

Looking closer at the photo, I see horizontal marks which indicate large flat teeth, similar to that of a beaver.

Does the pleated woodpecker have a flat beak? :rolleyes:

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Gifford Pinchot National Forest Highlights

Visit an Animal Sanctuary

The Lone Butte Wildlife Emphasis encompasses 12,450 acres of distinctive habitats. Lone Butte, Cayuse, and Skookum Meadows are particularly rich communities offering countless chances to view elk, deer, beaver, common snipe, warblers, and turtles.

Source

Most likely not the turtles.

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Winning answer from Fish and Game. Some folks pegged it above.

 

These are pileated woodpecker excavations after carpenter ants. If you look at the top right of the photo, you will see the beginning of an excavation, which is characteristic of pileated work. As they excavate out and deeper, the excavations just continue to get bigger. They can work these for hours and they are built for chiseling wood. Also note the wood chips that extend out from the base of the snag. The size of the chips is also characteristic of pileateds. When they excavate nest cavities up high on a snag, they will fling chips out in a radius from the tree that can extend out 10-20 or more meters, depending on whether the wind is blowing.

 

Looking closer at the photo, I see horizontal marks which indicate large flat teeth, similar to that of a beaver.

Does the pleated woodpecker have a flat beak? :)

Not that I'm aware of unless it saw an orthodontist. (That's my family friendly response.) :laughing:

 

It may be a woodpecker started it, but we certainly see evidence of another animal there too.

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Ok. I concede.

 

I've seen them, but not up close and personal so never knew the shape of their bills.

 

From Animal Diversity Web.

 

Physical Description

Mass

364 g (average) [Ref]

(12.81 oz)

 

The Pileated Woodpecker is the largest woodpecker found in most of North America. Only the possibly extirpated Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis) in the southeastern United States and Cuba and the Imperial Woodpecker (Campephilus imperialis) of western Mexico are larger. Dryocopus pileatus is best recognized by its large, dull black body and red crest. Because of its size and chisel-shaped bill, this woodpecker is particularly adept at excavating, and it uses this ability to construct nests and roost cavities and to find food.

 

This picture shows damage to a tree up close and personal.

Edited by TotemLake
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gremlins.jpg

 

Harry.jpg

 

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pumpkinhead.jpg

 

Nah just kidding, as much as people would love to believe in some grand conspiracy or some unknown beast, it is only a woodpecker. You have to remember; they have the patience and this is all they do to live, so I am sure they have developed a technique to remove wodd very effectively and it may even have a thought out pattern (when seen by humans) I have seen these before in the woods, and finally sawa woodpecker doing it, even then I didnt want to believe it, but allas, only bird doing all that work.

 

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According to Mammal Tracks & Sign - A Guide to North American Species, CG's pictures show all the signs of porcupine activity, particularly the incisor marks and the height of the damage.

 

Of all the guide books we own, this is among our favorites. Animal tracks, scat, carcass forensics. It covers all the stuff we used to only wonder about. For example, we now easily recognize the winter gait of the common, but elusive, blaze orange bushwacker.

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The little hole at the upper right is certainly a woodpecker and most likely a pileated. Maybe after he made a bunch of holes, a bear clawed the rotten wood away making the larger scrapes, but I'll bet this was all woodpecker work. Looks nothing like any beaver work I've ever seen. They work horizontally not vertically, and want live inner bark not dead wood. I'd dismiss all the other guesses quickly... well, maybe not the Donkey. :D

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