I was recently hiking around Finland with my girlfriend and we came across several trees that seem to have been had at by some sort of animal. I'm quite curious as to what it may be and any help would be appreciated. An image of such a tree (taken at Koivusuo luonnonpuisto) is below:

enter image description here

From what I could tell, the trees seemed to be had at for no particular reason (bugs etc) and no tree seemed to be partly done either. Any tree in such a state had it's bark "scraped" off from all around it, and up to approximately 15ft high on some as well.

I've looked online for some answers, though I think the closest I found was Elk or Squirrels. At first I even thought it might have been a lightning strike simply because I found a charred tree in the forest, but I think this to be unlikely given how many and how perfectly the bark surrounds the base of the trunk.

Thanks for any help on this! Been wondering for a few months and thought I'd finally ask for help :)

  • Bit of a guess but a bear looking for termites maybe? Could easily climb that high and remove that amount of bark
    – user2766
    Commented Sep 4, 2017 at 14:40
  • Yeah I thought bear as well for similar reasons.. Would be nice to confirm that thought though. Never seen a bear do this, or any such thing, but I always thought it wouldn't be so neat haha.
    – Vinny Pem
    Commented Sep 4, 2017 at 14:43
  • Seems black bears will strip bark but the photos on this document don't quite match what you've gotten there. Was the tree rotten? It looks like it had quite a lot of mushrooms growing out the side?
    – user2766
    Commented Sep 4, 2017 at 14:43
  • Hmm, Finland doesn't have black bears only Eurasian Brown, so that link doesn't seem relevant.
    – user2766
    Commented Sep 4, 2017 at 14:49
  • No, the tree wasn't rotten and no mushrooms. Perhaps on one or two, but there were quite a few of these and some seemed to be quite fresh/alive for sure. I've done a bit of digging based on the Black Woodpecker answer and I actually think that fits the best!
    – Vinny Pem
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 22:15

2 Answers 2


Almost certainly, this is the work of a woodpecker foraging for grubs in a dead and rotting tree: they tend to move methodically up the trunk excavating at intervals, producing the Swiss cheese effect visible in your photo. This being Finland, your culprit is probably the black woodpecker Dryocopus martius. For comparison, here's a stock photo entitled "Black woodpecker holes on a dead pine tree at a Nordic bog in spring":

Black woodpecker holes on a dead pine tree at a Nordic bog in spring


This YouTube video shows a black woodpecker at work. Here's a still from it: Black woodpecker foraging

  • 2
    This seems to be the best shout actually! I do recall whilst walking around hearing several woodpeckers (I even mentioned it to my girlfriend once). And I even managed to get a snap of a bird on a low branch over a bog which just happens to be black with a red head.. Sadly can't find the image (got around a thousand haha). But this seems likely. As you can see in my pic there are holes going up the trunk.
    – Vinny Pem
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 22:05

Not sure about all the bark being stripped off, but the elongated holes look like the work of pileated woodpeckers.

  • 2
    Pileated woodpecker would be a good candidate if the tree were in North America -- but there aren't any pileated woodpeckers in Eurasia, so its close relative the black woodpecker is a better bet here.
    – Pont
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 6:47

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