How Much Sap Should A Sapsucker Sip If A Sapsucker Could Sip Sap?

Recently we went downtown to Chicago’s northern lakefront.  Montrose Point is a great collecting area for migrant birds heading up north in the spring.  There were a variety of birds in the area including a number of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers.  Below are a couple pictures of males (the red neck differentiates it from the female).  The first one was taken by Emil Baumbach and is, as always, excellent.  The second one is a closeup I took at Montrose :

As we walked around we noticed an immature male (notice the red cap and neck just growing in) Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at knee-level on a tree trunk.  I thought the location was pretty close to the trail but as people walked by he would just fly off and then return when the coast was clear.

As I positioned myself for a better pic I noticed all the holes in the trunk.  Then it dawned on me, the sapsucker was drilling for sap!  Look at the picture below and you can see the rows of holes created by the sapsucker:

After the holes are made the sapsucker sticks its brush-like tongue in searching for sap (and insects caught in the sap).  Take another look at all the sap holes created by the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker:

I had never noticed this before but because the holes were so low it was easy to spot them and to figure out what they were for.  Next time you see a Sapsucker, look for holes.

Stay Safe.  Go Birding.  Take Pics.  Post Here.  Repeat.


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