Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Yellow bellied sap sucker

For the longest time I thought "yellow bellied sapsucker" was a slur used by cowboys to get someone to draw his gun or to fight. I now know differently. It is actually a bird.

Pretty bird

It looks a lot like a woodpecker and is actually from the woodpecker family. We have had woodpeckers here over the years. Our house is covered with cedar shingles. We have, on occasion, had an industrious woodpecker trying to peck his way into our house.

This yellow bellied sapsucker is not a friend to us or our Mountain Ash trees lining our driveway. My husband has been nurturing these trees for many years. (except for the one I mowed down when I was learning to mow on a rider mower).

This next paragraph that is named Cool Facts by someone who obviously doesn't care about our Mountain Ash trees since we feel this assault on our trees is anything but "Cool".

Cool Facts
  • The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker makes two kinds of holes in trees to harvest sap. Round holes extend deep in the tree and are not enlarged. The sapsucker inserts its bill into the hole to probe for sap. Rectangular holes are shallower, and must be maintained continually for the sap to flow. The sapsucker licks the sap from these holes, and eats the cambium of the tree too. New holes usually are made in a line with old holes, or in a new line above the old.

Our largest tree in the line under attack

Yellow bellied attack

Yellow bellied attack #2

We realize the bird has to eat but we don't want to lose these trees and we don't want to harm the birds.  We live next door to a large parcel of land, covered in trees, that has been left wild. I would think it would be a gourmet paradise for a bird looking for sap.

But this bird has decided that he prefers our groomed property and helpless little trees.

I am quite prepared to call him a "yellow bellied sapsucker" with the same intonation the old cowboys used to call out a coward when I see him pecking away at our trees. If only I could get him to chase me to the trees next door. He might be convinced to stay there and punch holes in those trees.


  1. Send it to me! In the old Parker Brothers game Careers, you get points for seeing a yellow bellied sapsucker and I have always wanted to see one! It's beautiful!

    1. We actually have two that you are welcome to have and to hold from this day forth.

  2. Very informative! Learned things I never knew about the yellow-bellied-sapsucker! That does have a ring to it....

    1. Sounds even better when you are yelling it at the bird I've noticed