Monday, July 25, 2016
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Family in Maine
While I never found the nest cavity where the brood was hatched, a pair of yellow-bellied woodpeckers had raised their young, and, had found a wonderful place, apparently, to eat, right in the yard of my in-laws in Maine. Quite honestly, I have no idea how the tree is still alive, but it showed no signs of distress. Yellow-bellied sapsuckers are given this name because they actively make small holes in trees to eat the sap and to eat insects attracted to the sap; I've read that the round holes are deeper, while the square holes are shallow. It's a bit tough to tell the difference between them above- most are somewhat intermediate to my eye.
Once I realized the sapsuckers were around, it didn't take me long to figure out that they were frequently this tree nearly all day, but especially in the morning and evening. There were at least two, maybe three, young-of-year hanging closely to their parents, perhaps learning what it takes to be a sapsucker.
The yellow on the belly is subtle- Through binoculars or a long telephoto lens, it's visible, and in the hand, I'm sure it would be quite striking . Remember, when most of our North American birds were named, high quality optics didn't exist, so the tool of the earliest ornithologists were shotguns! The yellow tinge is just visible flanking the female's dark patch below the throat.
In males, the white throat patch is replaced with red, which is stunningly spectacular in person. This was the first opportunity I've had to photograph a male.
What an incredible bird! As you can see here, there is in fact yellow on the male's belly, but it is subtle, easily overlooked if you are not looking through binoculars.
This was just another of family of baby birds that was frequently Little Pond. Without having to leave the yard, we were treated to wonderful looks at multiple species of baby birds. Ahh, to be in Maine again!