Friday, September 12, 2008

Sapsucker Seed Eater?

There were still quite a few juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers at Hasty Brook last weekend but I didn't see a single adult. Are the adults moving south all ready? This young one spent quite a bit of time on the thistle sock. I've never seen a sapsucker on any kind of feeder before, seed or suet. Quoting Sibley:

"Sapsuckers mainly eat the inner bark of trees, lap sap that oozes from small wells that the birds drill in a tree trunk, eat invertebrate's trapped in the sap produced at these "sapsucker wells," and also flycatch invertebrates."

When this bird first inspected the thistle sock, he (she?) seemed to give it a few whacks, burying its bill deep into the seed.

After some time it would probe the seed without the force, gently bringing out thistle, which it proceeded to eat. It occurred to me that the bird might be probing for insects, but I had just filled this sock with fresh seed an hour before so I'm certain it wasn't swallowing insects.

I was glad to have the type of sock with the bigger holes or I'm sure he would have enlarged the holes, tearing it.

Has anyone seen this foraging behavior in Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers before?

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17 comments:

Carolyn H said...

I've never been able to get anything to eat out of those thistle socks. They hang there for months, full. Then I pour the seed out and into a plastic feeder, and some one is eating the thistle seed in moments. Yes, the adult sapsuckers are moving now. The young ones will stay put until snowfall, then will likely head someplace south, too.

Carolyn H.

Bird Girl said...

Gee, Lynne - I never even SEE a sapsucker! But this is the beauty of the immature bird of any species - you never know what they will do! An obviously hungry sapsucker - GREAT photos!

Shellmo said...

Great photos of the immature sapsucker! (I did have a downy woodpecker on my thistle feeder before.)

Leedra said...

I think I will go out and fill my thistle socks up, maybe they will come my way. Not even sure if they migrate past me, but just in case.

NCmountainwoman said...

Amazing photographs. I have never had a sapsucker at our thistle. I love the pictures.

Stacey Huston said...

wonderful images, I hope someone out there can answer you questions.. maybe you could google it??

Susan Gets Native said...

Caption for your photos:

"Sap-sucking....yur doin it wrong."

cindy said...

Lynne, maybe the holes in the sock looked similar to the holes Sapsuckers drill for sap? Maybe a young bird of any species will just try anything and everything to learn how to survive. These are just guesses. Sorry. They are great pics, though.

Jayne said...

I've seen them on trees, but never on feeders, esp. a thistle sock! :c) He's adorable!

Ecobirder said...

Great sapsucker pics.

Linda in Erie said...

I've only seen a sapsucker once and it was on a pine tree at Presque Isle. I, too, have had downy woodpeckers on my thistle sock and they were eating some of it. Maybe they eat a variety of foods but mostly eat insects.

Mary C said...

That is so cute! I'm finding my backyard "youngsters" have been trying "new" ways of getting food, too. If I get some decent photos I'll try posting them. I did see a downy or hairy once try one of my regular seed feeders. It was hilarious! And it was probably a juvie.

RuthieJ said...

Perhaps there was a sapsucker sibling in another tree, daring this guy, "hey, go stick your tongue in that white thing hanging over there...."
Silly kids! ;-)

troutbirder said...

A birding mystery. We used to see sapsuckers frequently on the mountain ash in our yard. Its been years since they been around here in souther Minn. Another mystery.

Mary said...

Well, Linne, I've seen a yellow-bellied sapsucker twice and both times, it was drilling a tree trunk. This is so special, very odd, and I'm sure glad you caught it!

May

Larry said...

Maybe he's cleaning his bill off on the cloth material.-I've seen downies land on the thistle.-It's interesting when birds do something we don't anticipate.

Kathiesbirds said...

Lynne, your adult sapsuckers are headed our way. We saw a red-naped in Sabino Canyon on Tuesday. As for seeng a sapsucker eat seed, that's a new one on me, but that's the pleasure and wonder of nature. We humans try to catogorize and label everything and nature continues to amaze us when she breaks all our rules! Go sapsucker! I'm with Ruthiej on this one, LOL!