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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Woodpecker Tree

Yellow-bellied sapsucker.
The name alone makes me smile.  For years, like many non birders, for me, the yellow-bellied sapsucker was a fictitional bird with a funny name.  Now I know better but the name is still great.
We have a walnut tree in the back yard visible out my kitchen window.  In winter, the tree serves the neighborhood birds a buffet of peanuts or other little treats.  Many mornings I wedge peanuts in the deep grooves of its bark then watch as the birds come to steal the nuts for themselves.  The most common peanut pilferer has been the red-bellied woodpecker but nuthatches are strong competitors.  The birds perch on a low branch then fly down grab a peanut, fly off to a more distant branch and begin the work of breaking through the shell to get the oil rich nut. 
Lately, I've discovered a new way to get peanuts to the birds.  I've begun mixing peanut butter with crumbs, bird seed and bacon grease to form a glob that I smooth onto the bark of the tree.  The mixture seems to be a favorite of the yellow-bellied sapsucker who may remain around the mixture all morning.
Usually this woodpecker is known for its holes drilled deep into a tree in order to draw out sap.  The bird licks the sap, sometimes eating the cambium layer of the tree.
I had never seen a yellow-bellied until a few years ago and looking at the habitat map, I can see why.  According to the map at there are no yellow-bellied sapsuckers in this area of the Ohio Valley. We seem to be between winter and summer ranges.  I would guess that the gradual warming of our area perhaps along with the bird naturally widening range has made sightings more frequent. Maybe some of you more knwledgeable birders out there can give me some information on this.

Whatever the reason, the past three winters have brought the yellow-bellied into our back yard.
I'm glad to see it so I'll go now and fix a batch of greasy glob for this welcome woodland visitor.


Jillien said...

Morning to ya. First of all let me thank you for visiting me @ the Infamous. In regard to the mystery hole, I've never actually been. That particular image was used as this weeks fun meme called Microfiction Monday. You write a story in 140 characters or less on the picture provided. But now that I know its a real place, I'll have to look it up!!!

These pictures you have posted are incredible. you are so thoughtful to make that peanut butter paste for the birdies. It must be particularly exciting to see those little creatures enjoying their breakfast.


Beyond The Garden said...

JM, Thanks for the info. Microfiction sounds like fun. I'll have to visit.