Monday, January 18, 2016

A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker...

...has taken up residence in our backyard! Wait, what? A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker? We've lived in our home for almost 17 years, and we've never had one visit our yard ever, but this fella has been here at least a week. I hope he sticks around for the rest of the winter. The most common time to see Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers in our area is during spring and fall when they are migrating through. Sapsuckers nest much farther north, and they usually winter farther south, but we have one that appears to be wintering in our backyard...

A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker perches on our deck railing amid snowflakes and a small accumulation of snow.
A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker on our deck. 

It's the third week of January, and if you look up the bird list on the Cincinnati Audubon's website (click here), you'll find Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are given a "D," which means they are hard to find in our area this time of the year. So yahoo for our new little visitor!

...and what a sweet yellow belly you have!

A wintering Yellow-bellied Sapsucker eating suet while snowflakes are falling all around him.
Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers like sap, but there is no sap flowing around our house, so suet is the next best thing.
Our sapsucker has visited all of our suet feeders but has ignored the sunflower seed and peanut feeders.

This suet feeder is right outside our living room window, making it easy to get a good look at him. 

A male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker climbs a mulberry tree. Snow is falling making this a lovely winter scene.
A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker clings to a mulberry tree in our backyard while snowflakes fall gently all around.

Another view of the sapsucker through our living room window. The mulberry tree he is on is further away than the suet feeder, but still close enough to see him fairly well.

Our Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is not trying to drill any sapwells on the tree. He doesn't drill if sap is not flowing.

Sapsuckers start drilling sapwells when the sap starts flowing in early spring. They don't drill if there is no sap to be had. On Cornell's "All About Birds" website (click here), I read hummingbirds love hanging around sap wells and drink the sap readily. In some parts of Canada, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds time their spring migration so they arrive with the sapsuckers. Bats and porcupines visit sapsucker sapwells too, so these little birds help feed a lot of other animals! Here is another cool fact: sapsuckers will roll ants and other small insects in sap to create a "sugar-coated bolus" to feed to their young (click here for the source on the Penn State Extension site).

I hope our new Yellow-bellied Sapsucker sticks around all winter. It's been fun watching him. 

We have had a very warm winter so far. Tonight, however, the temps are dropping to the single digits and wind chills will be fierce. I hope the cold does not drive this little cutie south. I'll keep you posted!


Sue said...

Hi Kelly---what a wonderful surprise visitor! You captured some beautiful images.
We have them in the summer, but I've never seen one--just their handiwork on our trees
in the back "20" that we've let go wild.

Great post. Now we need a watercolor of him.........
hint hint.

Janice K said...

Lucky you! He so petty and colorful. Nothing like a rare visiter to brighten up he winter days. I haven't observed anything new at my feeders for quite awhile. Enjoy him!

Roy said...

Great shots! I've seen a few in these parts, hanging out in the same trees as some Hairy Woodpeckers. Not lately, though; your visitor seems to be an anomaly.

Sandra said...

Lucky you! I'd be happy just to see one and ecstatic to have one at the feeder. Wonderful photos of it!

Roy Norris said...

A really nice find and lovely photos as well Kelly.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

How nice to have such a cute visitor.Hope he/she sticks around.

Anne Hagman-Niilola said...

Lovely birds!

Guy said...

Hi Kelly

We get them here in the winter now, they should move a bit further south than Calgary but they have been staying to feed on the suet feeders people are now putting out. They are such a lovely bird.

Happy Birds

Laure Ferlita said...

I love that 2nd photo! Very cool to get a unusual winter visitor. Hope you all stay warm with the colder weather moving in.

Carol Mattingly said...

I happened across a Yellow Bellied Sapsucker in February last year. I couldn't get a good image, but these look to be just right. Carol

E said...

Beautiful, Kelita, great pics, abrazos. E.

Unknown said...

Great images of this terrific bird. I am currently trying to get a Yellow-breasted Chat to survive the winter here in Nova Scotia. Keep up the great work!

Kelly said...

@Sue...Hi Sue! Thank you! ....he would make a cool Christmas card for next year..... :-)

@Janice....I know. I love seeing new birds. I didn't see him! I hope he has not flown the coop. I'll keep an eye out for him tomorrow.

@Roy...maybe he's just a late migrator. I don't know. I just know we've never had one in our backyard, and I'm happy! I've seen them in the trees around the Little Miami River and the Great Miami River...and elsewhere, but never in the suburbs.

@Sandra....I was definitely ecstatic when I saw him at our feeder. I literally froze in my tracks as I walked across the living room and saw him on the feeder. His double red stood out.....and I almost jumped up and down! :-)

@Roy....thanks, Roy! It was such a surprise. Birds are the frosting on the cake!! :-)

@Kathy...thanks, Kathy. I do too. I didn't see him today, but then again, I wasn't around much to see, so he might still be there.

@Anne - Thank you, Anne!

@Guy - must have good suet to keep them so far north. :-) I hope mine stays around. I put another suet feeder in the yard, so now I have 4. Hopefully one will always be open when he comes around!

@Laure - Thanks, Laure!'s been cold, but I have tons of winter gear, so when I go out, I don't really feel the cold (except on my face). I miss having the windows open....and wearing shorts instead of boots and snow pants! :-) I want to be in Florida like you!!!!

@Carol - Thanks, Carol! I would love for this fellow to stick around until Feb!!! I imagine he will be moving on soon, though.

@Ena - thank you, Ena!! Abrazos! :-)

@Paul - Thanks you, Paul!! Wow-o-wow! A Yellow-breasted Chat though the winter! That would be wonderful. I hope he sticks around for you. Good luck!! :-)