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Question
I have a Maple tree about 35 years old. 25 feet up in a limb. there is a perfectly 2 inch hole in limb , base of tree there are 1/8 by 1/2 inch chuncks of wood. Fresh, wondering if it is insect bird or animal that would bore a hole like that????

Answer
Dear Le Ann

Thank you for your question. I also wish to thank the authors of the websites I used.

http://www.discoverwildlife.com/british-wildlife/how-identify-bird-and-mammal-tr gives examples of tree holes made by animals in Britain. Woodpeckers produce holes of about the same size you saw. http://wildlifedamage.uwex.edu/pdf/Woodpecker.pdf says there are 8 species of woodpeckers in Wisconsin. http://www.wisconsinbirds.org/plan/species/piwo.htm says the pileated woodpecker lives in maple trees. http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/pileated_woodpecker.htm says the pileated woodpecker usually creates holes in already-hollow trees, which are usually weakened by fungus. It makes up to 16 holes in each tree to allow escape routes should a predator enter the tree. It pecks the bark around the entrance holes to make sap run from the tree. This stops some predators, such as snakes, from entering. Lumberjach (http://www.arboristsite.com/community/threads/will-a-woodpecker-attack-a-healthy)says sapsuckers are most likely to make holes; they like sweet maple sap, but http://icwdm.org/handbook/birds/Woodpeckers.asp suggests that these holes are much smaller than 2 inches. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red-headed_Woodpecker/lifehistory says the red-headed woodpecker makes a hole about two inches in diameter; the holes of pileated woodpeckers are about 2.4 inches in diameter (http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/148/articles/breeding), that of the northern ficker is about 3 inches in diameter (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_flicker) and that of the downy woodpecker is about 2 inches tall and 1.5 inches wide (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Hairy_Woodpecker/lifehistory).

http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/silver_maple.htm gives a list of animals that make holes in silver maples. http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/eastern_gray_squirrel.htm says the eastern grey squirrel often use cavities, such as old woodpecker holes in red maples. http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/black_rat_snake.htm says black rat snakes also use woodpecker holes.

I suspect the hole was made by a woodpecker, the red-headed woodpecker making one about two inches in diameter, but it may be occupied by another animal.

I hope this helps.

All the best

Jonathan

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Jonathan Wright

Expertise

I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.

Experience

I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

Organizations
WWF. ZSL. Natural History Museum. RSPB. London Bat Group.

Publications
Newsletters of London Zoo volunteers and the London Bat Group

Education/Credentials
BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

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