Sunday, January 16, 2011

Red breasted Sapsucker

Many of our birch trees are riddled with holes. The woodpeckers and sapsuckers drill the bark, the sap flows, insects are trapped, and the birds return to feast upon both. This Red-breasted Sapsucker came to the beech outside my studio window this past week, as it does on occasion, but without doing much damage to the tree. Perhaps he is just coming to have his photo taken so he can be seen on the world wide web.

He/she (as they are difficult to distinguish) is outstanding looking with that red head and upper breast and complemented by the sporting black tails and designer tux and yellowish belly. this bird is a denizen of the coniferous forests of the northern Pacific Coast, usually found at middle or lower elevations, and there are two subspecies. The northern form, resident from Alaska to Oregon, is redder on the head and has less white on the back. The southern form, found in California, often shows the black and white face striping of the other sapsucker species, but all the facial feathers are tipped in red.

An interesting tidbit is that the Rufous Hummingbird associates itself with the Red-breasted Sapsucker; it nests near sap wells and may follow the woodpecker around during the day, feeding at the wells the sapsucker keeps flowing.