Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

I have had the pleasure of observing two Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers in the Maple Tree in my backyard! At first, I thought I was seeing just one, but upon viewing my pictures, I realized that one of them was a female (notice the white on the throat instead of red).

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (female)
Female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

I first noticed the male sitting on the side of the tree, seemingly in the same spot for a very long time. Later, I realized that he had been drilling several small holes in the bark. I have discovered that those small holes are called sap wells, which the Sapsucker drills into the bark, then returns later to eat insects that have become trapped in the resulting sap!

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (notice the sap wells that he has drilled in the bark)

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are a bird we will only get to see during the winter in Kentucky. They breed in the northern part of the United States and Canada, with a southern population in the Appalachians into northwest Georgia. So be sure and check your sap producing trees in the winter, you may just be surprised!
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (male)
Male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Interesting tidbit: A group of Sapsuckers are called a "Slurp" of Sapsuckers!


Ryan Ankeny said...

Sapsuckers are always cool. Love the first photo.

Dan Huber said...

Wonderful photos. These are great birds to observe.

Karen Bonsell said...

Thanks Ryan & Dan! They are neat birds indeed!

Julie G. said...

Wonderful post! Fantastic images! I did not realize the sapsuckers drilled holes to capture the trapped insects. I thought it was just to lick up the sap. Fascinating! I learned something new today. Very cool birds! A joy to visit your terrific blog!

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