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Red-breasted Sapsucker Creates Sapwells

Have you ever noticed trees with many small holes drilled in the bark, often in neat rows? These are most likely the work of a sapsucker, a type of woodpecker, and the holes are known as sapwells.  After the initial drilling, the sapsucker regularly revisits the tree to lick up sap from those "wells." These birds will also slurp insects attracted to the sap, forage for insects elsewhere on the tree trunk, and even nibble on tree cambium or fruits. Bats, squirrels, and hummingbirds also benefit from the sweet sap and the insects attracted to it.

Mike Hamilton found this Red-breasted Sapsucker hard at work, expanding his sap production.


Listen to BirdNote shows about Red-breasted Sapsuckers

Sapsuckers and Sap
Sapsuckers and Hummingbirds
Nesting Red-breasted Sapsuckers

All photos © Mike Hamilton

Look for Red-naped and Williamson's Sapsuckers in the West and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers in the East.

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