I have a woodpecker that's been pecking at a tree in my yard. I just noticed there is now a slight hole in the bark but I don't think he's building a nest. I see 2-3 of these little holes where he's done this and now I'm worried he's going to kill the tree. Is there anything I can do to chase him away?
Woodpeckers feed on insects and foraging on trees is what they do to find food. Pecking is mostly associated with feeding though there are times when they'll peck to create a nest. Nest pecking is mostly confined to one location and commonly the location will get a larger and larger hole till it is capable of housing the adult ready to lay eggs. Food pecking in the same area will be more random and constantly changing which is what it sounds like is happening on your tree.
Unfortunately this behavior can kill a tree. Most every tree harbors insects of some sort and some can kill a tree. Combine the insects feeding with the Woodpecker pecking, and the tree's life will be diminished that much faster. You could treat the tree with some Ropel detailed in our on line article on Woodpecker Control. In the article you'll find Bird Tape which works well at keeping them away from a small area too.
I also suggest doing a good inspection of the tree to make sure it doesn't have some kind of insect infestation that needs to be treated. Common pests that can kill a tree include Carpenter Ants, Pine Borers and Termites. Woodpeckers will commonly feed on these pests and others and sometimes treating the source of food (the insects on the tree) can be the best long term remedy to the problem. Other detailed directions on how to get rid of most any pest can be found at www.bugspray.com
Here are direct links to the information and products mentioned above:
Woodpecker Control: http://www.woodpecker-control.com/woodpecker-control
Carpenter Ant Article: http://www.carpenterants.com/carpenter-ant-control
Pine Borer Article: http://www.bugspray.com/article/pinebark.html
Termite Article: http://www.termites-swarming.com/termite-control