Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)

About the Bird

Seen/Heard at
Decorah, Decorah North. We see and hear Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers during the spring as they pass through on their way north. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers winter south of Iowa, returning to nest in northern forests in the US and Canada between mid-April and mid-May.

Diet
Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers forage in trees. They feed primarily on sap, drilling wells in trees with high sugar concentrations in their sap, and licking the sap that flows out of them. Their sap wells often attract insects, which may be eaten by sapsuckers or other birds. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers will also eat fruit.

Nesting
Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers breed from mid-May through Mid-July. Males commonly chose the nest tree and do most of the work excavating the nest cavity. Once he has finished, the female lays 4-6 white eggs on a bed of wood chips left over from the excavation, producing one brood per year. Both parents incubate eggs for 10-13 days and provide parental care. Young stay in the nest for 25-30 days before fledging. To learn more, visit Cornell’s website.
Citations

Bird Range Maps of North America
Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2003.
Digital Distribution Maps of the Birds of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA. Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy – Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International – CABS, World Wildlife Fund – US, and Environment Canada – WILDSPACE.
Web Link: http://bit.ly/2ynPQ5I
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology Birds of North America: https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/whbnut/introduction

General Description
Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are black and white with boldly patterned faces. Both sexes have red foreheads and males have red throats. Look for a long white stripe along the folded wing. They have a black chest ‘shield’ just below their throats, and white or yellowish underparts.

Migration
Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers winter south of Iowa, returning to nest in northern forests in the US and Canada between mid-April and mid-May. We see them as they migrate through the Decorah area.

Measurements
Length: 7.1-8.7 in/18-22 cm
Wingspan: 13.4-15.8 in/34-40 cm
Weight: 1.5-1.9 oz/43-55 g

Wing Design
Elliptical. Optimized for bursts of fast, tightly controlled flight. Excellent at taking off quickly, maneuvering through branches, and avoiding predators.

Range Map

Range Map