Sapsucker Baby Learning from Mom

The red-breasted sapsucker baby has left the nest!  Here one of its parents is teaching it how to be a sapsucker.  According to the Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior, Sapsuckers drill holes all over the tree and then eat the sap that pours out.  They also eat the bugs that get trapped in the sap.  These holes are called “sapsucker wells” and the young bird learns how to make them by watching the parent.

Notice how the bird sits on the tree- not only does it use its claws to hold on, but it also uses its tail.  See how it is bent and pressed against the tree?  The tail is a brace and without it sapsuckers and other woodpeckers couldn’t hang on.

Here the adult is also using its tail to hold on.  Look at all of the fresh “wells”!

  1. Wish we had more of your Sapsucker species here in MN. We only have the one: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Very entertaining birds! Ever notice how they drum erratically?

  2. I haven’t noticed that yet, but I will check it out the next time they are there! They spent a good 2 months solid feeding in that tree. I haven’t seen them lately- they seem to have moved on.

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