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Sap Sucker Lips

There has been some noise in the mornings this week. I’ve thought a few times that the train folks were using jackhammers again, but it was the Yellow Bellied Sap Sucker back from his winter vacation hammering on the chimney to let us know he is home.

Yellow Bellied Sap Sucker

The Yellow Bellied Sap Sucker is one of the Woodpeckers that nests on my land. They don’t actually suck sap, they don’t have lips, but they do drill holes in trees and let the sap flow out. I’ve read that they do it because insects inside the tree get swept away in the deluge of sap and the birds eat those insects, but now that I’ve tapped a few trees I think I see what’s happening. Insects are attracted to the sap because it’s sweet. My Birch bucket is filled with little bees squirming and swimming and stuck in a stupor. The Sap Suckers can just scoop them up. I think they make holes as traps. Every inch of our Apple Tree is perforated with Sap Sucker lip shaped holes.

I’ve read that humming birds who arrive too early in spring before the plants flower and produce nectar follow the Sap Suckers around to sip their sweet tree drips but I suspect they are less interested in the sap and actually eating the insects.


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