Predation by woodpeckers on Galiano island
Frank wrote yesterday:
Hi Margriet .. am forwarding an email (in mauve below) with images that I recently distributed to all the folks on my “Bee Team” concerning woodpecker damage on Galiano Island. I think you will find them interesting.
Do you get many reports of this sort of thing, or do you have such problems with your own nesting boxes?
I hope the summer has gone well for you,
“Subject: Woodpecker damage on Galiano IslandHi Everyone .. in response to my earlier email about the possibility of woodpecker damage to our nesting boxes, Paul brought two of his boxes to me from Galiano Island, where they had been thoroughly pillaged by woodpeckers.One puzzling thing is that we have flickers and downies in our garden all year round, but never have any of them shown any interest in the nesting boxes. And the site on Galiano where the damage was done has escaped predation for years.Anyway, that’s just one more element of mystery surrounding the life of our bees.I’ve attached four images, one overall image of each of the two nesting boxes, and one detail of the worst damage on each one. It looks as if the woodpecker(s) managed to clean out the front end of every gallery, even those where it(they) did not enlarge the opening i.e. there is not a single gallery left with chambers right up to the front entrance. As far as I can tell, the first two or perhaps three chambers are gone, particularly in the enlarged openings.Just how much damage has been done won’t be evident until we open them up in November.It’s a jungle out there!Cheers,f.By the way, if you are wondering what the markings are on the fronts of the nesting box trays, there is some evidence that decorating them in some way makes it a little easier for the females to find the galleries they are working on. It’s not uncommon to see a female come back to the nesting box from a pollen-gathering or mud-gathering trip and enter a gallery, only to pop out immediately and go to a different one. Sometimes it takes more than two tries before she lands where she wants to be”Hi Frank- these are good examples of wood pecker damage and yes I receive these type of reports nearly every year.I think you are lucky a pileated woodpecker has not found these nests. These giants can demolish whole mason bee homes.From the look of the hole- depth, this woodpecker is likely to be the hairy or downy woodpecker. You mentioned that they have not been predated on before. this might be because of food availability. Early in the spring, I have seen damage from bears, where they actually lick out the pollen lumps! You would not think it would be worth it, but food must have been scarce at the time.One easy way of protecting the nest from wood peckers is the hang them facing inwards- in July when flight has ceased. Or you can protect them with a predator guard. Be aware that the predator guard has to be a good inch away from the face of the nesting tunnel. Wire screen is NOT too successful. I think wire is usually too thin for the bee to see the wire when they come barreling in towards the nest.If my nests are not protected in some way, woody woodpeckers are sure to find them here at home.Oh by the way- I think the nests are still good to use- and the trimmings will assist bees to orient towards their nesting tunnels. I would sand these rough chipped holes though.Margrietreply from Frank:Thanks for the suggestions of turning the boxes around or using predator guards. Dick S. was very faithful about turning his boxes around each season, I know. And I’ll pass along your comment about reusing the damaged trays. You’re quite right that except for the one that was enlarged to the size of a loonie, they just look like someone had taken a countersink bit to them I think that bird (or those birds) worked awfully hard for what they got!I’ll let you know what we find when we open them up in November.