Apr 06 2010

Lots of Sap Means…

Published by at 7:26 am under Migration,Schenley Park,Songbirds

Yellow-bellied sapsucker (photo by Chuck Tague)

Yellow-bellied sapsucker (photo by Chuck Tague)

...a lot of sapsuckers?

The weather has been gorgeous lately so I've spent a lot of time outdoors.  Everywhere I go, every time I look around, I see a yellow-bellied sapsucker.

To me, this is unusual.  Yellow-bellied sapsuckers normally migrate through our area right now on their way to their northern breeding grounds and, yes, I usually see one at this time of year.  But do I see one every day?  No.  Do I see more than one a day?  Never.  Until this spring.

Why are there so many?  Did the sapsucker population explode last summer and now we're seeing the results?  Did they change their migration route so that more of them are coming through Pittsburgh?  Are the early arrivals lingering as the later ones catch up to them?

I've developed a theory.

Yesterday morning in Schenley Park I watched a sapsucker move from tree to tree, drilling for sap.  Eventually it landed on a beech whose trunk was completely wet.  The sapsucker licked moisture from the furrows.

I didn't think about where that much sap could have come from until a few steps later when I heard water dripping on dry leaves.  I looked down and found the wet spot, I looked up to see the snow-damaged crown of the tree where the main trunk had snapped off during the heavy snow we had in February.  So much sap was pouring out of the break that it dripped on the ground.

Lots of trees were in this condition.

So maybe the yellow-bellied sapsuckers are lingering here.  Maybe winter's damage has a bright side and a lot of sap means a lot of sapsuckers.

(photo of a male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker by Chuck Tague)

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Lots of Sap Means…”

  1. Cory DeSteinon 06 Apr 2010 at 7:52 pm

    I saw quite a few at Yellow Creek State Park as well as Prince Gallitizin so far this spring!

  2. Doug Baumanon 12 Apr 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Amazing, I spend so much time in the woods, and I’ve never knowingly seen a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. I’d love to see one someday!

  3. Doug Baumanon 12 Apr 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Or better yet, for me, would be to hear one. The song or call is what I use to ID most of the birds I encounter.

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