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A Sucker for Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers


One of the birds I most look forward to in the spring is the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.  For me, these are the clowns of the avian world.  They wear a garish make-up and a black and white clown suit.  Also, their call reminds me of some long lost kid’s or dog’s squeaky toy.  All in all, for me this is a bird I look forward to seeing again. 

Not everyone looks forward to having these birds around.  The Sapsucker obtains their food, the sap of trees, by drilling a series of holes around the trunk.  These holes also attract insects which are also a food source.  In creating these sap wells, there are times when they will kill the tree.  This is why people often do not like having them around.  On the other hand those wells of sap and the insects are often also a source of food for other birds, such as hummingbirds and warblers. 


Another aspect of the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker that fascinates me is their drumming.  In my yard, he ranges around his territory to find a spot that works best for him. This spring it has included a chimney, an old steel wheel, the barn next door and the guard-rail down on the road.  Again, not everyone appreciates their drumming either. 


Text and Photos by REArvidson

Ron Arvidson is an Artist and Teacher as well as an avid Birder.  Ron is also an Administrator for Birding on PEI.

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