Thursday, January 26, 2012


It probably should come as no surprise that one of my favorite groups of birds is the woodpeckers.  It may be because I’ve been known to beat my head against wooden structures. (Okay, not really).  It may be their elaborate dress.  It may be that they possess chisel like beaks capable of inflicting considerable damage.  It may be the diversity of feeding habits. 

And it is a particular fascination I have for sapsuckers.  It is their feeding style that generates their name.  We generally think about woodpeckers hammering away in search of insects.  However, sapsuckers drill holes or wells for sap and then feast on the fare that oozes.
Photograph by Bill Ravenscroft

Most of the time, I’m made aware of their presence in my neck of the woods by the drumming.  Even the newest field guide from NationalGeographic mentions this, stating that it sounds like Morse code.

Today, we recognize four species of sapsuckers.  They are the Williamson’s, the Red Naped, the Red Breasted and the Yellow Bellied (pictured here).  The last three were thought to be all one species under the banner of the Yellow Bellied.

The Yellow Bellied Sapsucker picture here is noteworthy, I believe, as it shows an individual molting from its immature plumage to its adult plumage.

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