Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

My wife and I, and two grandchildren, were out at our cabin, 8 km NW of Winfield, Alberta, last weekend (May 9 and 10). The weather was great and the scenery was beautiful. The aspen trees were just starting to leaf out, so they had that wonderful light green color. While there, we repeatedly heard a sharp rat-a-tat-tat sound. It was made by a male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker up at the top of a power pole. I tried to get his picture but every time I was almost ready to snap the shutter, it would move. Finally, I was lucky.

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Sapsucker’s are notorious for drilling holes in the bark of various trees. The accompanying photo shown above was taken of a birch tree several winter’s ago. Do the birds do so in order to come back and suck sap, or to find insects that have become stuck in the sap?

There are four species of sapsucker in North America. We have only the one. They are in the Woodpecker Family. Their heads are constructed in such a way that they can strike the bark of a tree like a jack-hammer, thus creating a hole in the bark and allowing them to access burrowing insect larvae in the underlying wood.

Just another of nature’s wonders.