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Posts Tagged ‘yellow bellied sapsucker’

Taken Sunday morning with my Canon 50D with a canon EF400L f/5.6. Later the same day another Yellow Bellied Sapsucker; this time a male both in the Parthenon area:

 

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Got this photo on this sunny but cold day on Murray Road in central Newton County, Arkansas. This is a female. Their numbers increase through March and April; then they are gone until next fall:

 

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I took these on Friday, one week ago, along Murray Road with a Canon 7D and a Canon EF400L Lens. The Male looks a little beaten up and the fmale is beautiful.I only get to see these wonderful birds in the very early spring while they migrate north to their breeding grounds:

Male (first), then Female (second) Yellow Bellied Sapsucker

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From Cornell Labs:

On a walk through the forest you might spot rows of shallow holes in tree bark. In the East, this is the work of the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, an enterprising woodpecker that laps up the leaking sap and any trapped insects with its specialized, brush-tipped tongue. Attired sharply in barred black-and-white, with a red cap and (in males) throat, they sit still on tree trunks for long intervals while feeding. To find one, listen for their loud mewing calls or stuttered drumming.

Cool Facts

  • The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker makes two kinds of holes in trees to harvest sap. Round holes extend deep in the tree and are not enlarged. The sapsucker inserts its bill into the hole to probe for sap. Rectangular holes are shallower, and must be maintained continually for the sap to flow. The sapsucker licks the sap from these holes, and eats the cambium of the tree too. New holes usually are made in a line with old holes, or in a new line above the old.
  • The sapwells made by Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers attract hummingbirds, which also feed off the sap flowing from the tree. In some parts of Canada, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds rely so much on sapwells that they time their spring migration with the arrival of sapsuckers. Other birds as well as bats and porcupines also visit sapsucker sapwells.
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have been found drilling sapwells in more than 1,000 species of trees and woody plants, though they have a strong preference for birches and maples.
  • The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker frequently uses human-produced materials to help in its territorial drumming. Street signs and metal chimney flashing amplify the irregular tapping of a territorial sapsucker. The sapsucker seems to suffer no ill effects of whacking its bill on metal, and a bird will return to a favorite sign day after day to pound out its Morse code-like message.
  • The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is the only woodpecker in eastern North America that is completely migratory. Although a few individuals remain throughout much of the winter in the southern part of the breeding range, most head farther south, going as far south as Panama. Females tend to migrate farther south than do males.
  • The oldest known Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was 7 years, 9 months old. It was banded in New Jersey and found 6 years later in South Carolina.

In spring and summer, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers favor young forests and edge habitat, especially areas regenerating from timber harvesting. There they find lots of fast-growing trees ripe for sapwells (and since they can spend half their time or more tending to or feeding from their sapwells, sapsuckers needs lots of trees for tapping). So unlike most woodpecker species, sapsuckers don’t rely on dead trees for feeding, although they do search for trees with decayed heartwood or dead limbs for their cavity nests. On their wintering grounds, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers aren’t as selective in habitat, as they’re found from bottomland hardwood forests to as high as 10,000 feet, though never in pure conifer stands. In winter, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers can be found in forests of hickory or pines and oaks.

 

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Just a photo; caught him (it’s a male) flying from a ring of sap holes in a Hickory tree. Taken with a Canon 7D with a Canon EF 300 f/2.8 IS at 75 feet; just off Murray Road near Parthenon, Arkansas. They are beautiful birds ! They drink sap from a ring of hole they dig around a tree (look at the tree to the left).

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He is in migration southward and looks pretty battered, but it’s the first I’ve seen since last April; they are not really common like a Downey Woodpecker here in the mountains.

On a walk through the forest you might spot rows of shallow holes in tree bark. In the East, this is the work of the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, an enterprising woodpecker that laps up the leaking sap and any trapped insects with its specialized, brush-tipped tongue. Attired sharply in barred black-and-white, with a red cap and (in males) throat, they sit still on tree trunks for long intervals while feeding. To find one, listen for their loud mewing calls or stuttered drumming.

sapsucker with sap holes in a ring

  • Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are fairly small woodpeckers with stout, straight bills. The long wings extend about halfway to the tip of the stiff, pointed tail at rest. Often, sapsuckers hold their crown feathers up to form a peak at the back of the head.
  • Color Pattern

    Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are mostly black and white with boldly patterned faces. Both sexes have red foreheads, and males also have red throats. Look for a long white stripe along the folded wing. Bold black-and-white stripes curve from the face toward a black chest shield and white or yellowish underparts.

  • Behavior

    Yellow-belled Sapsuckers perch upright on trees, leaning on their tails like other woodpeckers. They feed at sapwells—neat rows of shallow holes they drill in tree bark. They lap up the sugary sap along with any insects that may get caught there. Sapsuckers drum on trees and metal objects in a distinctive stuttering pattern.

  • Habitat

    Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers live in both hardwood and conifer forests up to about 6,500 feet elevation. They often nest in groves of small trees such as aspens, and spend winters in open woodlands. Occasionally, sapsuckers visit bird feeders for suet.

    sapsucker in migration

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