I really get excited whenever I see one of our local sapsuckers. The color, the work ethic, the little rows of sap wells they leave posted on tree trunks here and there. Great bird. There was one at Joe Dancer Park in McMinnville this morning.You can see the tiny rictal bristles at the base of the sapsucker’s beak. I don’t believe he was drilling holes in this tree but instead hunting in the dense lichen forest that covered this tree’s trunk.The RBS has a very narrow range, from southern Alaska to Baja along the Pacific Slope. Only in the area east of Lake Tahoe does it breed east of the Cascades or Sierra Nevada. In areas like Modoc County they interbreed with closely related Red-naped Sapsuckers. Once they were thought to be the same species.
They often feed their young on insects and I once got a photo of an adult carrying a beak-full of carpenter ants into a nest hole near Klamath Lake (at Rocky Point). If you want to see that image click on this link and scroll down to the sapsucker section, past the cranes being blackbirded and other stuff nearer the top.
If you go through the species account (2014) in Birds of North American online you quickly realize this is a poorly known species. Data on the population and breeding habits is sketchy to nil. On brood per year with up to five eggs–that’s about all we humans known about this wonderful bird. You can bet there’ll be precious little bird research for the next four years. I have hope that the sapsuckers will be out there waiting for us when we do show up. Drill, baby, drill.
This is War-war using the perch I inserted into one of his suet logs. A Bewick’s Wren was singing in our garden this morning. But like the meadowlark, this species does not migrate and can be heard singing on almost any mild day in any month of the year. So not a note of spring-like ardor from little Bewick.
Joe Dancer Park, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jan 26, 2017. 5 species
Red-breasted Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber) 1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) 2
Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) 1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius) X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) X