A new woodpecker species appeared in my mini-bird sanctuary!

A male Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes caro...

A male Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus). Photo taken with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 in Johnston County, North Carolina, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That bird feeding station outside my window just never ceases to give pleasure and amaze.

I was happy to show off my resident Red-bellied Woodpecker to Cousin Sally when she was over for Christmas dinner yesterday.  Or rather, he was showing off his skills in clinging to the suet feeder swallowing chunks of food.  He is not a super regular visitor.  So that makes him a bit special when he does show up.

Northern Flicker

When that Red-belly showed up, conversation turned to woodpecker species.  “What’s a Northern Flicker look like?”  Well, since I just so happen to have two birding books on the end table in front of the window ….. here.  See?  The closest to my house I’ve ever seen one?  Oh, that was in the forested area around the ponds out back.  Never around my feeders.

English: yellow-bellied sapsucker

English: yellow-bellied sapsucker (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I was pleasantly surprised by a NEW woodpecker species visit.  A … could it be?  But … does it winter around here?  A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker!  Quick! Check the “Birds of Illinois” book to make sure I can believe my eyes.  Yes!  Illinois is on the northern edge of the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker’s winter territory.  More are found in southern Illinois than here in the north this time of year.  To be sure, I’ve spotted them in the local forests in early spring.  But … here?  In my yard?  In winter?

A quick check of the Illinois Birder’s Forum website and the local Christmas Bird Count listings prove it.  Six Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers were sighted at my local arboretum during the CBC on December 15th.  So, it’s confirmed!  They’re in the area and a new bird species has made its appearance outside my birding window.  It was not at the feeding station, but that could change.  What a wonderful thing it would be to have a close-up view of a resident Yellow-belly enjoying the suet feeder!

We birders get excited about the craziest things!

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17 Responses to A new woodpecker species appeared in my mini-bird sanctuary!

  1. I love the title of your blog! I was big into birding when I was in college. Then I spent the next 33 years paying bills, also known as working. I joined the birders again in January 2012. I think the best way to spy on birds is to go out with someone who has been spying on them for 50 or 60 years. They know the places to go!…….lol

  2. Congratulations! Got my first look at a downy at my mother’s house in the States a week ago. They were practically glued to the feeder. Took a woodpecker to see off the starlings.

  3. Deb Platt says:

    What fun to have a new woodpecker species visiting your yard!

    And a Happy New Year to you!

    • And today I am being plagued by English Sparrows and European Starlings! Snowy day is bringing a lot of species around. Red-bellied and Downey Woodpeckers in the mix …. have not seen that sapsucker, though!

      Happy, Healthy, Prosperous 2014 to you, Deb!

  4. Bob says:

    Two birds I won’t find in my yard…..great spotting and enjoying. I have some photos of hummingbirds at sapsucker wells if you are interested. Thanks for sharing this posting!

    • Actually, I was going to mention the hummingbirds’ dependency on those sapsucker holes, but thought it would be a bit much for one post.

      Yes! It would be very interesting to see those shots of hummers tapping the sapsucker holes!

  5. I hope your sapsucker finds a suitable tree for its drilling work in 2014 – then you can count all the holes, maybe! RH

  6. And here I thought yellow-bellied sapsuckers were figments of the imagination! Here we get the Great Spotted and Green (in my little sanctuary, at least). The Great Spotted has been so frequent of late that I must get the chicken wire around my hives. Too much of a temptation in the cold of winter.

    • I understand your thinking that there is no real creature that would have a name as funny as “Yellow-bellied Sapsucker”. But … now you have the proof. Our hummingbirds depend on Sapsuckers in early spring when they migrate north before flowers from which they drink nectar are in bloom. The hummers tap the sap from the holes that the Yellow-bellies drill in trees to get sugar.

      I find your Green Woodpecker very interesting.

      So your woodies wreak havoc with your hives, do they?

  7. Jim in IA says:

    Congratulations! It is a good find.

  8. The red-bellies live here. But what fun to see the yellow-bellied sapsucker. We have a couple of times, but that’s all. LUCKY!!

    • What I love about the sapsuckers is that the holes they drill in trees in early spring provide sap for hummingbirds migrating north before flowers are in bloom. I’ve rarely seen them, so having a sapsucker just yards away from my feeders was exciting!

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