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Yellow-bellied sapsucker        Images © Mark A. Chappell

Like their close relatives the red-naped and red-breasted sapsuckers, the yellow-bellied sapsucker drills holes in the bark of live trees and repeatedly revisits these 'sap wells' to drink the nutrient-rich phloem fluid and the insects it attracts.  The species is typically found in eastern North America but occasionally strays to the west coast.   These three birds, a juvenile with poorly-defined facial stripes, an adult female, and a colorful adult male, appeared in winter on the Monterey Peninsula in central California.   The male was using sap wells in a coast live oak, which seems surprising given the tannins present in oaks.   A fourth species, the western Williamson's sapsucker, has a quite different appearance

  • Canon 7D2, R5, R7, or Olympus E M1X; Canon 800 mm IS lens with 1.4X or 2X converter or Olympus 150-400 lens with 1.4X converter, fill-in flash (2021, 2022)