Protect or Prosecute
There has been some odd-appearing damage to our Viburnums in the area over the past several years. This damage looks machine-made in nature. The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker has been picked out of the line-up as the guilty party. Horizontal markings going down the whole length of the stems, particularly on the older growth, are signs of its presence. These birds are coming through Tennessee during the winter months and are considered to have a short breeding season. They remove bark from the plant so that sap will fill holes to attain nutrition.
Viburnums are commonly used for privacy screens. Continual damage of Viburnums will thin them out in a short time negating the plant’s purpose, either by damaged wood dying or having to trim out the damaged area manually. Other varieties of trees are subject to damage from the Sapsucker, particularly Maple, Birch, Pine, and Oak.