Photographed by Bette Jackson
If you are have difficulty playing the audio click here
Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Like most woodpeckers, the yellow-bellied sapsucker makes its home in wooded areas and spends considerable time climbing about tree trunks and limbs in search of food. Unlike other woodpeckers, however, the yellow-bellied sapsucker doesn't usually excavate rotted wood to reach wood-boring beetles or ants, although it gleans a few insects from tree surfaces, the yellow-bellied sapsucker focuses much of its attention on lapping up sweet sap. To get at the sap, it excavates quarter inch diameter shallow holes in living trees. Sap oozes into the holes, which are called 'sap wells', and the sapsucker samples it. If the sap is sweet, the bird laps it up, then moves on to other holes. The sapsucker returns repeatedly to holes that produce sweet sap. In the spring when sapsuckers are nesting, they feed their young insects and spiders, great sources of protein, but often visit their sap wells to sop up the sweet liquid with their catch, thus sugar-coating dinner for the sapsucker kids.
'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.