Sapsucker art

The (awful) photo at right was taken on my most recent trip to the Adirondacks, probably somewhere in Bloomingdale Bog. It looks like this tree was quite popular with local sapsuckers!

Sapsuckers remove the outer layer of bark and bore into the cambium, causing the sap to ooze out of the tree, which they drink with their long tongues. Their habit is to return to the same tree over and over and this can cause significant damage to the tree. I liked the pattern so I snapped the photo, although at that time I had never actually seen a sapsucker. Since then I’ve learned to recognize their *mewing* calls and sometimes find them in my neighbors apple tree. Last spring I had a great look at one outside my office window in a blooming crabapple tree. The are very pretty birds that might easily be mistaken for a downy woodpecker. The yellow-bellied sapsucker has a white wing-stripe and dull yellow underparts that are good field marks.

5 thoughts on “Sapsucker art”

  1. That’s a neat photo…looks like a corn cob. And you know, I’ve seen that pattern on trees before. Next time I will be on the lookout for Mr. Sapsucker!
    Are you buried in snow like we are here in Cincinnati?

  2. You’re right, Susan, it does look like a corn cob. I hadn’t noticed that.

    No, no snow although it feels like it wants to do something?!? How many days till May? *grin*

  3. We have rarely seen the sapsucker, usually Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied and Pileated but I found a tree that matches your photo so I will be checking more carefully.

  4. Usually the tell-tale sign of a sapsucker being about is a tree with 4-5 small holes in a straight horizontal line. I think boring multiple holes may help with the sap flow. I am not sure this does much damage to the tree. Several cherry trees in my neighborhood have had sapsucker holes for years but seem to be doing fine.

  5. John – do you think this much damage indicates it was something else, besides a sapsucker?

    I’ve seen trees with just a few horizontal holes like you mentioned. I’m guessing the more holes, the more sap flow, and more insects about.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *