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Williamson's Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus thyroideus)

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Sapsuckers drill small holes in the bark of favored trees, then return again and again to eat the sap that flows out. And hummingbirds, kinglets, and warblers come to the sap wells to eat the insects trapped in the sap. Although a sapsucker - like this Red-breasted Sapsucker - may suck a tree's... read more »


Williamson's Sapsucker

Williamson's Sapsuckers nest in western mountain forests. The radically different plumages of the male and female so confounded 19th-century naturalists that, for nearly a decade, the birds were thought to be of different species. Sapsuckers are unique among woodpeckers in drilling neat rows of... read more »


Woodpeckers Love Ants

Woodpeckers, as a group, eat far more ants than most other birds do. Many other vertebrates tend to avoid ants because of their stings or because of the noxious chemicals they contain, like formic acid. But woodpeckers just love them. A Pileated Woodpecker’s diet may be up to 50% ants! read more »


Drumming with Woodpeckers - West

Early spring in the West resounds with the percussive hammering of woodpeckers. Their rhythmic drumming functions as other birds' songs do, to broadcast over a long distance a clear statement of territory and mating rights. Learn about this Pileated Woodpecker and the others in this show - the... read more »

Topics & Themes:  breeding display, sound

Woodpecker Wonderland

When it comes to woodpeckers, nature has been very generous to the Northwest. Some areas, like the Okanogan region in north-central Washington, host among the highest diversities of woodpecker species anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere. You may spot the diminutive Downy Woodpecker or the... read more »


Sapsuckers and Sap

Sapsuckers, a specialized group of woodpeckers (that includes this Red-naped Sapsucker), don’t actually suck sap. After pecking neat rows of small holes in trees to cause the sugary liquid to flow, the birds lick it up with tongues tipped with stiff hairs. So why doesn’t a sapsucker’s beak get... read more »

Topics & Themes:  science