Deep Dive - Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers

by OBDK on February 06, 2023

Yellow-bellied sapsuckers are a species of woodpecker that can be found throughout North America during their breeding season and down into Central America during the winter when they migrate.1 Their heads are black, white, and red. Males have a red patch on their throat while females don’t.2
They are called sapsuckers because they will peck into the wood of trees in order to get to the sap. They’ll eat the sap and they’ll eat the insects that are then attracted to the sap. So it’s a win-win for them.3
They stand about 8.5 inches tall, have a wingspan almost double that at 16 inches, and weigh just under 2 ounces. They are the only woodpecker residents of North America that migrate.1 Male yellow-bellied sapsuckers are usually the ones that will carve out cavities in trees, which can take almost three weeks.3 When these birds reproduce, females will usually lay 4-6 eggs. After hatching, their offspring will fledge after a month.2
Within the United States, there is an isolated population of these woodpeckers that are considered to be a subspecies of yellow-bellied sapsuckers.1 Sometimes, yellow-bellied sapsuckers will reproduce with red-naped sapsuckers, which causes the hybridization of the two species.3 
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