The Woodpecker Appraisal

In 24 hours an appraiser arrives to assign value to our home as part of a refinancing “journey.”

An hour or so ago…a woodpecker assigned itself to our cherry tree.

Or maybe it’s a plum (tree).

I initially thought nothing good can come from this coincidence. You want everything to go smoothly at an appraisal. Make sure there’s nothing unusual going on nearby. Draw no unnecessary or unusual attention to your environment. Clean. Straighten. Repeat.

At one end of the spectrum the bird is banging away 24 hours from now and that repetitive, rhythmic sound will be unsettling during the appraisal.

At the other end of the spectrum the bird brings the whole tree down during the appraisal…a tad more unsettling.

Thank heavens the house doesn’t have wood siding.

Perhaps some background on the family tree of the cherry (plum) tree is in order here…for example, it had a living mate at one time.

When we bought our home about twelve years ago we also inherited two cherry (plum) trees curbside between the front yard and the street. They provided some spectacular blooms each spring, followed by a relative handful of cherries (plums) either devoured by the local bird society or gathered up by my wife and I.

Until the spring of 2012 that is.

The winters of 2009-10 and 2010-11 were two of the worst in recorded history around here. 70-plus inches of snow both of those seasons. Brutal. The winter of 2011-12 was the exact opposite. The snow blower never even left the bullpen that go-round. It was cold at Halloween but that winter…not at all.

Apparently the weather trifecta planted the seeds for the cherry (plum) trees to pollinate so vigorously in the spring of 2012 we can safely rate their fertilization activity as “XXX.”

(You may be wondering by now why I’m not sure about cherry/plum. One of the two trees failed to bloom a year ago and was put out of its misery. The consultant for the tree service, while agreeing the tree lived a long and…fruitful…life…couldn’t figure out why the developer put actual fruit trees so close to the street as the surface tends to radiate heat and bake them out in the summertime. He also couldn’t figure out why I was calling them cherry trees as he insisted they were plum trees.)

In the late spring and throughout that summer of 2012 my wife and I were picking up on average 50 new cherries (plums) a day off our property, many far removed from being intact as they were but birdy leftovers if not outright victims of physics – gravity versus ground.

Our bird community enjoyed this all-you-can-eat buffet early in the process but clearly struggled with dining out as the warmer months slogged on. We inadvertently committed them all to Weight Watchers for the balance of the year as my wife and I picked up hundreds of pounds of fruit in various stages of decomp.

Picking fruit off the ground daily is rather labor intensive, proportionate to one’s age and physical condition of course.  I considered myself to be in reasonably good shape but being bent over for a 1/2 hour straight a couple of times a day revealed a whole mess of muscles I didn’t know were available. My wife felt the strain of this never-ending harvest as well.

We were going to trim the cherry (plum) trees back anyway but the situation got so sticky we had a tree service come out sooner and trim both back to stop the carnage…better leveraging our chances of not having any reoccurrence in the years to come.

Back to the present day now with the one remaining cherry (plum) tree now under appraisal from a woodpecker…mind you the VERY FIRST woodpecker we’ve ever seen or heard in these parts…a day before the home appraisal.

This remaining cherry (plum) tree is still very much alive so the objective was to keep both woodpecker and tree alive…for at least 24 hours.

Off to Ye Olde Internet to find out how to deal with the woodpecker…

“All species of woodpeckers are at least somewhat protected by federal and state laws. This means intentionally killing woodpeckers is illegal.”

Immediately learning this was helpful in that I no longer needed to waste my time chasing solutions that could lead to its demise. I was simply trying to get it to find another tree to hang with.

“Just because you see a woodpecker pecking on the tree does not mean that there will be damage.”

More helpful news…the tree might not suffer any long-term damage after all. So…why was this bird even out there in the first place?

“Woodpecker holes in trees happen for a variety of reasons. In many cases woodpeckers are going after insects in the tree which means not only do you have a woodpecker problem, you may have an insect problem. Other types of woodpeckers may be creating holes in your trees so that they can get at the sap. Other reasons a woodpecker may be pecking on trees is to build nests, attract mates and even store food.”

I’ve never seen any insects on the tree (flying around the fruit on the ground was another story entirely). There is sap on the tree on occasion. Geez, I would feel bad if the little dude or dudette was just hungry…or trying to find companionship. Maybe a temporary solution?

“Decoy predators, such as plastic hawks and owls, can be used but stop working quickly once the woodpecker determines they are not actually a threat.”

Clever woodpeckers.

“The best way to stop woodpecker damage is to keep the woodpecker from getting to the tree in the first place.”

Clever Internet.

“Loud noises such as hand-clapping, a toy cap pistol and banging on a garbage can lid have been used to frighten woodpeckers away from houses.”

“Hi there Mr. Appraiser…”

“Yes, I am VERY happy to see you.”

“Noooooo, it’s not a real gun.”

“How DID you know “Stomp” is my favorite musical?”

Fortunately, after what sounded like forever the little one ceased its loud, highly focused excavating operation and moved on.

Until tomorrow? We’ll see.

Before it departed I kind of got a picture of it in woodpecking mode. (Zoom function only…the woodpecker is at the base of the tree on the right-hand side)

Though the woodpecker apparently did not appraise our tree at a particularly high value here’s hoping in 24 hours the appraiser does the opposite with our home.

Knock on wood.


Have you ever experienced any unforeseen realtor/appraiser challenges?

Have you ever hosted woodpeckers?

Are cherry and plum trees really all that similar?


About sportsattitudes

I'm Bruce. Born, raised and still outside the City of Brotherly Love. Managed (so far) to visit a dozen of our United States and Canada (twice). Addicted from birth to Television/Movies/Sports. Took three years of French and got credit for two of 'em.
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55 Responses to The Woodpecker Appraisal

  1. Laura says:

    My first thought is that the sap is running and that is why the woodpecker is on the tree. I think if you chase the bird away a few times, maybe set your lawn chair next to the tree, the bird will get tired of being chased away. And if the appraiser hears the bird pounding, you could always say your neighbor is working on a project 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There’s a partridge in a pear tree joke in here somewhere.

    Who knew woodpeckers were such termites.

    Really looking forward to hearing J-Dub’s suggestion on how to get rid of your new friend.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. wiersema1 says:

    Bruce….first of all let me say you are quite hilarious. As for the appraiser, I doubt he’ll even notice. I suspect much of your story was “tongue in cheek” but if you are seriously worried about the appraiser, don’t worry so much.

    If I were you I might consider removing that tree soon. Sounds like it’s not worth all the hassle. You could replant something like an “Autumn Blaze” maple tree (we have a couple of these here in Illinois, they have beautiful red leaves in October) or something less worrisome. Who needs a cherry (plum) problem, right!?!

    Great stuff. I enjoyed reading. Thanks!

    PS Excellent photo. I indeed zoomed in to see the culprit woodpecker. Awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Reid, thanks for those kind comments and your tree suggestion. We have some fantastic maples nearby that go red in autumn and I’m betting those are what you are referring to. I’ve had my fill of picking up fruit. The temps here in PA have gone from 30 to 70 and back again for a couple of weeks now. 70 plus today…snow expected on Friday. Who knows how much will come forth this year!

      Liked by 1 person

      • wiersema1 says:

        We have a similar climate in IL. I think we’re “zone 5” for trees. We just planted a new “Sweet Gum” tree last October. It’s…..unique. We had to replace several dead ash trees because we have that God-awful “Emerald Ash Borer” disease. All the ash trees in IL are now dead. Sad! Good luck with the fruit/cherry/plum issue…..and maybe stay away from planting an ash tree, even if it hasn’t hit PA yet. It probably will get there eventually.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. 70 inches of snow is a light winter! (we had over 90 by the end of Dec! Expecting 6-12 here tonight! It’s been snowing all day.
    As to your woodpecker, as long as he’s not going for bugs on the side of you house, the appraiser won’t care 🙂 And cherry wood is prized by wood workers, maybe why your wood guy wanted you to think plum? Free wood! Woodsmen don’t like woodpeckers-they damage the price they can get from a log!
    Good luck on your appraisal and use the money wisely 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bev, I don’t think I could handle much more than those 70 inch snowfall seasons. Cherry wood being prized…you might be onto something there. That service was pretty happy to take that first tree away. We’ll use the appraisal money wisely – promise. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Have you named the woodpecker?! Interesting to see the bird low on the tree I don’t know much about them but always noticed woodpeckers to be higher up on tree..

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Quirky Girl says:

    “The best way to stop woodpecker damage is to keep the woodpecker from getting to the tree in the first place.”

    Gee, really? I’m sure that impressive gem of wisdom has helped countless people with existing woodpecker problems. 😛

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Very funny! Really enjoyed this post. Cherry (plum)? Hmm, seems you have a chum tree!
    Regarding your pecker problem, it isn’t making a nest that low, for sure. So maybe tasty sweet sap or some bark grubs. Good luck with the appraisal – my worry there is the location of the house right at the end of a t-junction. Headlights in your windows all night long, possibility of some jerk not stopping and crashing into the house! Guess you can’t hide that. 🤔

    Liked by 2 people

    • A chum tree sounds like a perfect solution to this fruit confusion. We do in fact have cars coming down to meet us but so far none of them have introduced themselves into the front yard let alone the house. The headlights do try to invite themselves in so we have brought down the curtain(s) on their act. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • It would drive me crazy (pun intended). I used to rent a house in Ohio that was juuuuuust around a slight curve. And had a big damn ditch out front. In a year, two cars oversteered to the right and BAM! into the ditch right outside our house. While scary as hell initially, it helped me learn that I am a very good first responder and that I do not panic. You never know until these things happen.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Steph McCoy says:

    It’s amazing something so small could make so much noise. I hope everything went well with the appraisal/

    Liked by 1 person

  9. reocochran says:

    Plums have much bigger pits and cherries have seeds. I cannot understand why the landscaper would mix the two up. Crabapples and cherries have similar “remains.” Still different looking fruits.
    Hmm. . . Mainly hoping you get a great appraisal and you’re satisfied with the report. 🙂 😀 I chuckled at this post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Robin, I think the visit went well (the one by the appraiser, not the woodpecker…although that seems to have gone OK also). The only doubt I have about the trees being 100% cherry is because of that “expert” opinion. I should probably know what they are…picked up enough fruit! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  10. What is that bird doing so low to the ground? Death wish – suicide by cat? Geesch. Maybe he was trying to add local color for the appraiser …people like birds and wildlife these days.
    I hate selling houses. Our last one was tricky as you really needed to time the visits by realtors since the airport expanded its runways to take larger planes and suddenly started flying them directly over our house. I swear the pilots waved. I became really really good friends with the airport nuisance noise people…you can imagine…”Well you said call anytime the noise was so loud we couldn’t hold conversations upstairs…They’re your planes, ask them why they are arriving every 11 1/2 minutes early afternoon until late night…”
    We did sell it – to someone who didn’t mind the noise, and loved the landscape (Hope they actually got to sit outside in that garden swing.
    Keep the tree – it blocks the incoming road!
    (and I hate picking up tree litter – they are so thoughtless)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Karen, the woodpecker has not returned or brought friends so our daytime flight patterns have remained light. We are however near a Sikorsky helicopter facility and they love to take their new birds out at night for test runs. If you have lived in the area you are already familiar with them but it could be a bit disconcerting to newbies. Maybe if we sell the home down the road viewings are best scheduled during the daytime for out-of-towners. Woodpeckers seem almost quaint in comparison.


  11. You could always tempt them with some suet – we have many woodpeckers visit the bird feeders every day here!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. aFrankAngle says:

    No, No, and No to your questions … but I sensed your angst. My first thought was wondering about your siding. In our previous location, we would hear the woodpecker on the wood siding next to us … and every once in awhile he would try our aluminum. Now that’s a racket!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. scifihammy says:

    We have a massive tree in our garden that I have always called an Australian Cherry Plum – does that help? Probably not, but what’s in a name?
    I hope your house assessment goes well and that the woodpecker decides to take up residence elsewhere. Noisy neighbours are the pits! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Skipah says:

    Consider yourself lucky you do not have wood siding. An old neighbor of mine had one of these nuisances cause thousands of dollars in damage. Cherry/Plum potato/potata.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Bun Karyudo says:

    I’m happy to hear that pesky headbanger has moved on somewhere else (probably). Incidentally, I loved the last line. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. We have a similar tree that looks like a Cherry to me but my hubby calls it a Crabapple. Sadly, many of our trees have also taken a hit due to the harsh winters/wind. We presently have half a Bradford Pear that I won’t let my husband cut down. I worry though, with tornado season approaching, it may just go down. 😦 Thanks for the visit to my site btw. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I believe my grandparents had a couple of those crabapple trees back in the day now that you mention it. Trees are resilient to a point but with the wilder weather I wonder how sturdy they’ll prove to be in PA also. Thanks for the visit and comment! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I’m done with winter. It’s been a long one, and I’m no longer a fan. Luckily, it looks like the weather is warming up.

    I have to read a lot of appraisals, and luckily, few mention woodpeckers in their assessments. But they may cite compparables with cherry trees. Or plum trees? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Allen, it was 70 here a couple days ago and now we’re supposed to get a foot of snow. I like my seasons changing slowly…evolving and morphing and ending…but not all within two days time. Whatever kind of tree it is it’s likely to have a rough growing season this time around.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. We had a woodpecker once that persistently pecked a metal downspout so we called it the metalpecker. After moving to another town a distance away we saw one pecking at a street sign daily for a time and another on someone’s metal barn roof. Apparently they like the noise for attracting mates.

    Liked by 1 person

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