On Tuesday of this week I noticed a large wet area on the trunk of a Carolina Maple in Catch the Wind. That could only mean one thing, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker had been at work. This is the same maple that I mention each year around this time. It seems to be a favorite of our visiting sapsuckers and it’s easy to observe (it’s right next to the path).
I’ve been keeping a casual eye on this tree but hadn’t seen any activity until this week (2/5). Looking closer I noticed that there were four new wells drilled through the bark, a sapsucker had indeed been busy here and I missed it.
While I stood and photo’d the tree I heard a rapid chickadee-dee-dee-de-de-de, chickadee-dee-dee-de-de-de coming from a small cedar tree next to the maple, then from a branch just above me.
Two chickadees, intent on coming in for a sip of sap, were scolding me. I was in their way. I backed up a few feet and stood motionless for several minutes. My patience paid off, one of the little bundles of energy came in to take a drink.
The tree in the photos is in front of the Vapor Rings Exhibit and across from the restrooms in Catch the Wind. There are already ants coming to the seeping sap, so be on the lookout for this tree when you’re out strolling through Catch the Wind. Besides the ants and birds at the tree for the sap itself, other birds may come in to eat the ants and other insects that will almost surely be stopping by.
By the way, when you pass through Explore the Wild stop by the Wetlands Secondary Overlook (just below the Lemur House) for more about sapsuckers and ants.
Enjoy the wild!
Greg Dodge is a professional naturalist as well as a writer, videographer and producer of natural history DVDs. His images have been used in various TV productions, museum displays, and corporate videos. Above all, he has a fascination and passion for all things natural.
He can be found Tuesday thru Saturday in Explore the Wild, Catch the Wind, or on the Dinosaur Trail. Ask him what’s new in the wild!