My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Sphyrapicus varius

Note: this post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Sphyrapicus varius

The yellow-bellied sapsucker is a medium-sized woodpecker found in North America, Central America and the Caribbean.

The breeding habitat of the yellow-bellied sapsucker is forested areas across Canada, eastern Alaska and the northeastern United States. They prefer young, mainly deciduous forests.

Like other sapsuckers, these birds drill holes in trees and eat the sap and insects drawn to it. Many other species of birds will make use of the holes drilled by the sapsuckers to feed on the sap and/or insects as well.  Sapsuckers may also pick insects from tree trunks or catch them in flight. They also eat fruit and berries.

Yellow-bellied sapsuckers nest in a large cavity excavated in a deciduous tree, often choosing one weakened by disease; the same site may be used for several years. Both the male and the female work in making the nest, where five or seven white eggs are well concealed. Both birds share in hatching.

They will mate with the same partner from year to year, as long as both birds survive. They sometimes hybridise with red-naped sapsuckers or red-breasted sapsuckers where their breeding ranges overlap.

These birds migrate to the southeastern United States, West Indies and Central America, leaving their summer range.

On to my photos:

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Male yellow-bellied sapsucker

Male yellow-bellied sapsucker

Male yellow-bellied sapsucker

Male yellow-bellied sapsucker

Male yellow-bellied sapsucker

Male yellow-bellied sapsucker

Male yellow-bellied sapsucker

Male yellow-bellied sapsucker

This is number 97 in my photo life list, only 253 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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14 responses

  1. You know, I wish I could take my cellphone out on the golf course I work at. We’ve got a pretty impressive array of birds out there, and I know I’d have plenty of chances to photograph them when I’m on the bevcart. I was thinking that just last night.

    May 23, 2013 at 7:52 am

    • Thanks Amber. You should, one of the parks that I walk often for birding also has a golf course, and there are many birds living there.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:17 am

  2. I never see the birds but I see their hole patterns in tree trunks all the time.

    May 23, 2013 at 8:25 am

    • Same here, I seldom catch sight of the sapsuckers, even though I see signs of them everywhere.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:18 am

  3. I’m sure you make some of these names up.

    May 23, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    • Only the Latin scientific names.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:17 am

  4. I’m impressed. You’ve almost made it to three digits!

    May 23, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    • Thanks, I have draft posts that take me to 100 species, and photos of another 20 or so species saved, so I’m making progress.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:18 am

  5. Seriously…….. a yellow-bellied sapsucker?
    I thought that the cartoon department at Warner Bros thought that one up.
    I’m seriously impressed.
    Terry

    May 24, 2013 at 7:27 am

    • Thanks Terry, there really is a bird called the yellow bellied sapsucker.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:18 am

  6. He is so cool ! Wish I could see one.

    May 24, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    • Someday!

      May 25, 2013 at 1:28 am

  7. I’ve gotten some pictures of males. I think they look like bird rock stars with their crazy red heads! 🙂

    May 28, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    • Thanks, I’m going to have to try a little harder.

      May 29, 2013 at 2:52 am