Yellow Bellied Sapsucker

yellowbelliedsapsucker

Yellow Bellied Sapsucker

Birds

Sphyrapicus varius[i]

Out on the trail recently, I happened to notice a woodpecker on a dead tree. At first, I thought it was a hairy woodpecker, quite common in our region – no big deal. But then, I decided to whip out my binoculars anyway to watch what he was doing, and that is when I noticed his coloration was off, and then I realized it wasn’t a hairy woodpecker at all, but a yellow bellied sapsucker – a bird common in northern New England, but rare out my way in southern New England[ii], so I was quite pleased to find him. I then whipped out my camera (with brand new 200 mm lens, Yay!!!) and took the picture above (which has since been cropped.)

Anyway, about this bird: Like their name says, they have a yellow belly. They also have a black back with white spots, a white stipe on their side and red on the back of the head, males have a red blotch on their chin, and females have white.[iii] The bird in the picture is male. These birds are slightly smaller than a hairy woodpecker, about 8.5 inches.[iv]  Like many other woodpeckers,[v] they nest in tree cavities.[vi] Also, like most other woodpeckers, they are monogamous and territorial. [vii] And as their name suggests, they feed on sap, by drilling holes into the bark of trees, and return later to feed on oozing sap.[viii] They also feed on insects and other invertebrates in which they often store in boreholes in trees.[ix] These birds have also been known to feed at hummingbird feeders and suet feeders, and also have been known to eat donuts left out to attract birds.[x] These birds are also migratory, and found in most of our area only in the warmer months, though a few may winter in the southernmost parts of New England.[xi]

Again, I was quite pleased to see him, because this species is very rarely seen out my way.

 

Sources:

[i] Kaufman, Kenn “Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America”  pg 216 2000 Hillstar Editions L.C. The Houghton Mifflin Company. New York

[ii] Kaufman, Kenn “Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America”  pg 216 2000 Hillstar Editions L.C. The Houghton Mifflin Company. New York

[iii] Kaufman, Kenn “Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America”  pg 216 2000 Hillstar Editions L.C. The Houghton Mifflin Company. New York

[iv] Kaufman, Kenn “Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America”  pg 216 2000 Hillstar Editions L.C. The Houghton Mifflin Company. New York

[v] Edited by Elphick, Chris, Dunning, John B. and Sibley, David Allen “National Audubon Society The Field Guide to Bird Life & Behavior” pg 380-1. 2001, Chanticleer Press, New York.

[vi] Roth, Sally “Attracting Birds to Your Backyard” pg209, 1998. Rodale Press Inc. Emmaus, Pennsylavania

[vii] [vii] Edited by Elphick, Chris, Dunning, John B. and Sibley, David Allen “National Audubon Society The Field Guide to Bird Life & Behavior” pg.380. 2001, Chanticleer Press, New York.

[viii] Roth, Sally “Attracting Birds to Your Backyard” pg209, 1998. Rodale Press Inc. Emmaus, Pennsylavania

[ix] Edited by Elphick, Chris, Dunning, John B. and Sibley, David Allen “National Audubon Society The Field Guide to Bird Life & Behavior” pg.376. 2001, Chanticleer Press, New York.

[x] [x] Roth, Sally “Attracting Birds to Your Backyard” pg209, 1998. Rodale Press Inc. Emmaus, Pennsylavania

[xi] Kaufman, Kenn “Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America”  pg 216 2000 Hillstar Editions L.C. The Houghton Mifflin Company. New York

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