Yellow-bellied sapsucker

Yellow-bellied sapsucker
Sphyrapicus varius

Photo by Dominic Sherony (Wikipedia)

Commons name:
yellow-bellied sapsucker (en); pica-pau-de-barriga-amarela (en); pic maculé (fr); chupasavia norteño (es); gelbbauch-saftlecker (de)

Order Piciformes
Family Picidae

This species breeds across Canada and in the north-eastern United States, and migrate south to winter in the western United States, the Caribbean and Central America as far south as western Panama.

These birds are 18-22 cm long and have a wingspan of 34-40 cm. They weigh 43-55 g.

The yellow-bellied sapsucker breeds in deciduous and mixed coniferous forests, in boreal and temperate zones. Outside the breeding season they mostly use moist tropical forests, but also pastures, rural areas and even urban areas. They are present from sea level up to an altitude 3.500 m.

They feed on insects, such as beetles, ants, moths and dragonflies, but when insects are not available they rely mostly on sap from various trees, namely poplar, willow, birch, maple, hickory, pine, spruce and fir. They also eat fruits, nuts, seeds and buds.

Yellow-bellied sapsuckers breed in April-July. The nest is a hole in a live tree, excavated by both sexes and placed 2-20 m above the ground. There the female lays 4-6 eggs which are incubated by both parents for 10-13 days. The chicks fledge 23-30 days after hatching and become fully independent about 6 weeks later.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the population is estimated at 5-50 million individuals. The yellow-bellied sapsucker is retracting in range, possibly owing to loss of suitable feeding and nesting trees.

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